The following information was compiled from Ingersoll Rand Co. P.L.C.'s website, in its Tech Tip section.
In any work environmentwhether it's a shop, office or warehousesafety is a primary concern.
Aside from the obvious impact on the health of workers, accidents and injuries can cost time and money for a business. Working improperly with high-powered impact tools or air compressors with built-up air pressure can result in serious injury and damage to the tool and other equipment.
And while instruction manuals and safety manuals seem too long and cumbersome to read cover to cover, they contain crucial information to keep you and your co-workers safe.
These safety tips are in no way a substitution for reading and understanding the owner's manual of a particular toolbut we did want to share some of the basic steps for staying safe in the shop, said Mike Purtell, strategic channel manager at Ingersoll Rand.
Taking the proper precautions before, during and after the use of a tool or air compressor can help extend the life of the equipment, and keep users safe.
The guidelines below focus on pneumatic tools and air compressors that are commonly used in a shop setting. Follow these and you'll be a step ahead in the safety game.
Before using a pneumatic tool: The first step in using a pneumatic tool isyou guessed itconnecting to an air source. Poor connections and loose fittings can impact tool performance and put you at risk of a safety issue. Always use clean, dry air at 90 psig (pound-force per square inch gauge) maximum air pressure at the inlet, unless a higher pressure rating is specified on the tool. Exceeding the maximum rated pressure shown on the tool may result in hazardous situations, including excessive speed, rupture or incorrect output torque or force.
Just in case, make sure you can access an emergency shutoff valve in the air supply line. If an air hose is whipping around, don't take any chancesshut off the air supply before approaching. Install a properly sized safety air fuse upstream of the hose and use an anti-whip device across any hose coupling without internal shutoff, to prevent whipping if a hose fails or coupling disconnects.
Pneumatic tools need to be lubricated to perform properly, and using recommended lubricants is vital. If you're unsure if a lubricant is flammable, don't use it.
If you plan to install, remove or adjust any of your pneumatic impact tool accessories, first turn off the air supply, bleed the air pressure and disconnect the air supply hose. This is also important if you're planning any maintenance on the tool.
Things to remember when using the tool: Regardless of what tool you're using, eye and hearing protection are a must. Be aware of the dangers of not wearing hearing protection and the side effects that may occur later in life. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 125,000 workers have suffered significant, permanent hearing loss since 2004. Also, make sure your work area is well-ventilated to avoid inhaling dangerous amounts of harmful chemicals.
Keep hands, loose clothing and hair from the working end of a pneumatic tool. Also remember to keep your stance firm and anticipate sudden changes in motion, reaction torques or forces during start up and operation.
Paying attention to your air source, and ensuring it's well-maintained, is just as important as keeping your pneumatic tool in good working order.
Here are a few important things to remember regarding air compressors: Intake air is not intended for breathing air applications. The air can contain carbon monoxide or other contaminants. Again, a well-ventilated working area is very important.
Be aware of the voltage of your air compressor. If it requires maintenance, disconnect and bleed pressure from the tank. If your compressor is not made for outdoor use, do not use it in wet conditions.
Pneumatic tools require air pressure to perform properlyand that means they need high-pressure air. Valves are placed at certain points on the compressor for a reason: to keep the user safe. Don't adjust, modify, remove or bypass any safety/relief valves.
A rusty tank poses a significant risk in the shop, as a rusty tank is more likely to cause an explosion. This puts youand other people in the areain danger. Be sure to drain the tank daily using the drain valve located at the bottom of the tank. If you're operating in an area that experiences high humidity on a regular basis, there are a few precautions you can take to prevent excessive moisture. These include increasing ventilation, operating for longer intervals, or installing an external crankcase heater kit.
Never attempt to modify the tankif it is rusted, obtain a replacement from your service center.
If the compressor is equipped with an electric drain valve, be sure that the valve is at least 18 inches above the floor. Electric drain valves incorporate arcing or sparking parts that need to be kept away from moisture.
No manual can replace common sense in the shop. Be aware of the people around you, and avoid any activities that will put them in harm's way. Keep walkways clear, perform regular preventive maintenance on equipment and tools, and always wear the appropriate safety gear.
It's always a good idea to allow local fire and rescue personnel to tour your shop to familiarize themselves with the layout. This allows safety personnel to be more prepared in the event of an emergency.