Quick safety tips to mitigate air tool hazards

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.