Basic Safety Tips for Pneumatic or air tools

Basic Safety Tips for Pneumatic or air tools

Pneumatic tools are also called air tools and are powered by compressed air. Common types of these air-powered hand tools that are used in industry include buffers, nailing and stapling guns, grinders, drills, jack hammers, chipping hammers, riveting guns, sanders and wrenches. Air tools are very important set of tools due to their application method, use of air instead of electric power. We shall explore the basic safety tips for pneumatic tools safety in this article, we shall make it very brief and understandable for even the most basic educational level team member.

How do you use pneumatic tools safely?

Any one who must operate a pneumatic tool must be trained sufficiently on how to safely use them as well as inspection, compressed air hazards, proper PPE requirements and tool storage.  Creating a safety strategy when using air tools is crucial.

For example air compressors can be vulnerable to changes in moisture, temperature and position. Perform a basic safety check at the beginning of every shift or before using any pneumatic tools for the first time each work day. 

Initial preliminary tools check

  1. Check gauges, connectors, hoses and guarding during the inspection.
  2. Check hoses regularly for cuts, bulges, kinks or deterioration. Tag and replace, if defective.
  3. Do not use any pneumatic tools, hoses, air compressors or attachments if they appear to be damaged or seem to be failing.

Safe use of air tools

  • If you have purchased any air tool please review the manufacturer's instruction before using a tool.
  • Wear safety glasses or goggles, or a face shield (with safety glasses or goggles), and, where necessary, safety shoes or boots and hearing protection.
  • Post warning signs where pneumatic tools are used. Set up screens or shields in areas where nearby workers may be exposed to flying fragments, chips, dust, and excessive noise.
  • Ensure that the compressed air supplied to the tool is clean and dry. Dust, moisture, and corrosive fumes can damage a tool. An in-line regulator filter and lubricator increases tool life.
  • Keep tools clean and lubricated, and maintain them according to the manufacturers' instructions.
  • Use only the attachments that the manufacturer recommends for the tools you are using.
  • Be careful to prevent hands, feet, or body from injury in case the machine slips or the tool breaks.
  • Reduce physical fatigue by supporting heavy tools with a counter-balance wherever possible.

How should I handle air hoses?

  • Use the proper hose and fittings of the correct diameter.
  • Use hoses specifically designed to resist abrasion, cutting, crushing and failure from continuous flexing.
  • Choose air-supply hoses that have a minimum working pressure rating of 1035 kPa (150 psig) or 150% of the maximum pressure produced in the system, whichever is higher.
  • Check hoses regularly for cuts, bulges and abrasions. Tag and replace, if defective.
  • Blow out the air line before connecting a tool. Hold hose firmly and blow away from yourself and others.
  • Make sure that hose connections fit properly and are equipped with a mechanical means of securing the connection (e.g., chain, wire, or positive locking device).
  • Install quick disconnects of a pressure-release type rather than a disengagement type. Attach the male end of the connector to the tool, NOT the hose.
  • Do not operate the tool at a pressure above the manufacturer's rating.
  • Turn off the air pressure to hose when not in use or when changing power tools.
  • Do not carry a pneumatic tool by its hose.
  • Avoid creating trip hazards caused by hoses laid across walkways or curled underfoot.
  • Do not use compressed air to blow debris or to clean dirt from clothes

What you must avoid doing with compressed air

  • Cleaning with compressed air is dangerous.
  • Do not use compressed air for cleaning unless no alternate method of cleaning is available. The nozzle pressure MUST remain below 207 kPa (30 psi). Personal protective equipment and effective chip guarding techniques must be used.
  • Two acceptable methods of meeting the "below 207 kPa (30 psi)" requirement are illustrated below.

Frequently asked questions about Air tools

  • Q. How does air tools work?

    air tools are a type of power tool that is powered by compressed air, the compressed air is supplied by an air compressor. The air compressor produces air by a gas-powered pump mechanism , which will forces the air into a steel container tank until the air becomes pressurised. Thereafter the air tool is hooked up to a hose that is attached to the tank via an air valve. All air tool, spray gun, ratchet, wrench sand blaster or any other air-powered tool, has a release valve or firing pin. Only when the trigger is pulled on the pneumatic tool, the firing "pin" is opened and thus opens a valve inside the tool and pressurised air flows through the tool. This air will either turn a crank or engine that operates gears (as in a ratchet tool) or course through a barrel to shoot a nail/staple.

  • Are air tools intrinsically safe? The term Intrinsically Safe (I.S.) means “explosion-proof”, is often used generically to describe tools that are ideal for working in hazardous (particularly explosive) areas such as environment with explosive gases or chemicals.. Intrinsically safe is a protection concept based around limiting the available electrical energy to nonincendive levels so that sparks cannot occur from short circuit or failures which could cause an explosive atmosphere to ignite. Manufacturers ensure that these tools follow special procedures and no mistake is allowed. The term, and precautions, of I.S. tools are guidelines to ensure maximum safety for the user. Electric tools won't cut it as they have the constant spark inside them when running, But air tools do not have coils or magnets that move within them hence, air tools can be made intrinsically safe, due to lack of sparks. It is highly recommended in environment that has any such possibilities of having explosive gases and chemicals.

Understanding Pneumatic tools, this ultimate guide helps 

15th Nov 2023 TIKWELD TEAM

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