"I was using a pneumatic air hammer and punch to disassemble a defective wheel bearing one day when I had an accident. The punch broke and a piece of it flew in through the side of my safety glasses and into my eye. Turns out the air pressure was too high in the punch. I learned why they tell us to wear the side protectors on safety glasses when we're working with air tools." Dave (Age 54) Mechanic
One of the modern day inventions that has saved man a ton of manual labour is compressed air in the form of pneumatic tools. There are many benefits that these types of tools provide for almost every construction related industry.
Some common pneumatic tools include: buffers, nailing and stapling guns, grinders, drills, jack hammers, chipping hammers, riveting guns, sanders and wrenches.
What is Compressed Air?
Compressed air is created by a pump which is powered by an electrical generator and stored in a strong cylinder or other enclosed object to create a powerful expulsion of air. The air can then be released using a valve. The air can be used to fill up a tire, create impact and driving force for washers and sprayers, pneumatic hammers, and a range of other handheld tools. Most hardware stores sell air compressors that measure their tanks in volume, as in, how much air can be stored within the tank. The pressure within the tank is monitored by a regulator so the electrical generator will disengage the pump at a certain amount of pressure. The pressure in compressed air is measured in pounds per square inch, or PSI.
Quick Tips: Using Pneumatic Tools Safely
- Always be sure to read the manufacturers instructions carefully before use
- Wear the proper PPE for the job
- Ensure tools are properly maintained and cleaned according to the manufacturers instructions
- Be sure to only use the recommended attachments
- Reduce fatigue by supporting heavy tools with a counter-balance where possible
One of the most common accidents that easily be prevented results from workers who try to clean themselves off by blowing their clothes with an air hose. It is recommended that the pressure not be greater than 30PSI when handling air on clothes and the body. If the air is greater than 30 PSI, it becomes unsafe, and at higher pressures can burst through the skin into the blood causing air bubbles to enter your veins, which results in death.
Quick Tips: Handling Air Hoses
- Use proper hose and fittings of the correct diameter
- Do not carry a pneumatic tool by the air hose
- Use hoses specifically designed for heavy use. Use abrasion and cut resistant hose for air lines whenever possible
- Choose air supply hoses with a minimum pressure rating of 1035 kPa
- Regularly inspect hoses for bulges, cuts and abrasions. Tag and replace any hoses that are defective immediately
- Install quick disconnects of a pressure-release nature
- Never operate a tool at a pressure higher than the manufacturers recommendations
- Turn off the air pressure hose when not in use or when changing tools
- Never use compressed air to blow debris or dirt from clothing