Health and Safety risks of compressed air blow guns

Using compressed air to clean an area, remove swarf and blow down machined components and engineering machinery is commonplace but, are you aware of the health and safety risks? Do you know the relevant UK Legislation governing compressed air blow guns?

Risks to operator Health and Safety using a compressed air blow gun

There are numerous possible risks to operator health and safety using a compressed air blow gun:

  • Risk of compressed air entering the operator's bloodstream - this can result in death.
  • Risk of eye injury from swarf or particles - potentially impeding sight or causing blindness
  • Risk of droplets of metalworking fluid absorbed by the skin - which can cause dermatitis.
  • Risk of metalworking fluid mist - a known cause of respiratory ill health including asthma.
  • Risk of high noise levels - causing a significant risk of permanent hearing damage.

If compressed air blow guns are so dangerous why is there no specific legislation?

The short answer is, there doesn’t need to be because there are several other Health and Safety legislative laws which protect people in the workplace the business needs to adhere to.

Download the BCAS Fact Sheet on Blow Guns


What can you do to make your compressed air blow gun operations safe?

  • Identify the potential risks, the examples above are the most common but your operations will likely have their own specific risks.
  • Reduce the exit pressure of the compressed air to as low a level as possible (As a guide some countries have set a maximum level of 30 psi at the point of exit from the nozzle). Gauges are commercially available for testing this exit pressure.
  •  Consider the type of compressed air blow gun used. There are lots of different brands, design features and styles of air guns. For example:
    • Air nozzles designed to reduce noise.
    • Air guns designed to reduce jet velocity.
    • Air guns designed to create an air curtain.
  • Provide appropriate training, personal protective equipment, supervision and health surveillance.
  • Get expert advice on your compressed air systems, processes and a professional audit to evidence you have taken every measure available to reduce the risk to your operatives using compressed air.

Avoid hearsay - protect your people and your business

It is a myth that only a noisy compressed air system is effective. Advances in compressed air technology mean that modern systems, if well maintained, can be just as effective producing less noise and using less energy.

Contact us here to get a FREE ‘no obligation’ audit of your compressed air systems, processes and equipment.

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