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Quick safety tips to mitigate air tool hazards

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article image Compressed air or particles may fly from equipment causing irritation or injury to the eye
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Caps Australia advises users of air tools to take a few precautions at the workplace to avoid physical injury. Most potentially hazardous risks involving air tools can be mitigated with a few simple safety measures.

Air pressure
When dispensing air at varying pressures and flows, pneumatic tools can over-speed if the pressure/flow exceeds the manufacturer's rating. The resultant excessive torque or any other force can cause the tool or workpiece to break, potentially injuring the operator.

This hazard can be avoided by adjusting air pressure to the manufacturer's rating; making sure hoses are of the correct inside diameter and are not kinked or crushed; and ensuring the air compressor and receiver have enough capacity to deliver air in an amount sufficient to properly operate all attached tools.

Air temperature

Under certain conditions, the temperature of compressed air can be low enough to cause frostbite, stiffen the operator’s fingers, or even result in cumulative trauma injuries. The operator is advised to wear gloves if there is no risk of them getting caught in any rotating or reciprocating parts.

Noise levels

Pneumatic tools can be noisier than electric tools due to the un-muffled exhaust air. Operators are advised to install an effective muffler on the exhaust or wear appropriate hearing protection to protect their hearing against damage from prolonged exposure.

Oil and air quality

Some pneumatic tools have a tendency to produce oil contaminated air. If this oil-contaminated air discharges anywhere near the operator’s tool grip, their hands may become oily resulting in a dangerous loss of grip and potential injury. In such an environment, the operator is advised to frequently wipe both hands and the tool. To eliminate the hazard, find a replacement tool with a better design.

Shock potential

Air powered tools are not grounded or double insulated, exposing the operator to possible shock if they make contact with a live wire while working with a pneumatic tool. To avoid danger, ensure all electric power in the immediate work area is isolated.

Whipping hose danger

Severed air hoses can whip around violently until the air is shut off, resulting in injury to anyone in the vicinity. To protect the hose from physical damage, install the male end on the tool when using quick disconnect type fittings.

Eye protection

Eye protection is an important part of using a pneumatic tool. Compressed air or particles may fly from equipment such as chipping hammers, rock drills, rotary drills or sanders, causing irritation or injury. Operators are advised to wear safety glasses at all times.

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