Is safety of Compressed Air Systems really
just about safety?
and more companies are finding that to be competitive in this
global economy they need to do more with few resources. So when
budgets and schedules are tight, safety might not be the first
priority that comes into mind when making decisions on the
purchase or maintenance of a compressed air system. But is
safety really just about safety? Here are ten health & safety
tips shared by Mr. Imtiaz Rastgar that end users should consider
throughout the lifecycle of their compressed air systems.
Designed to be Safe
The compressed air systems should be designed as Safe Air
compressors, their components and accessories need to meet a
number of design codes and standards; machines need to be
clearly CE marked and vendors should be able to provide full
documentation on compliance. Proper design prevents accidental
exposure to moving parts, live voltage, high pressure or
chemicals that could cause injury.
The end users often have only limited space available to
place an air compressor, yet a machine that is difficult, unsafe
or impossible to access can cause serious disruption in the
future when there is a need for a routine or unplanned
maintenance and as a consequence down time.
Experienced Installation Team
The experienced installation team and reliable provider
should design, install and commission air compressors and its
associated civil work, piping, etc. with the selection of the
most suitable materials, safety and bleed valves, that will
prevent future leaks and other undesirable events that could
result in injury to customer staff or down times.
Trained Service Staff
The air compressor service personnel that are regularly
trained, better understand and comply with safety procedures.
There is a proven record for fewer injuries, in addition to the
higher quality and greater efficiency resulting in a more
reliable compressed air system.
Personal Protection Equipment
The service personnel wearing personal protection equipment
such as safety boots, gloves and safety glasses are probably the
best indicator that the compressed air system provider handles
all other aspects of its business with the same due diligence
Hazardous Energy Sources
The lockout of Hazardous Energy Sources before any work,
routine or unplanned, should be initiated on a compressor. All
energy sources (compressed air, electricity and in some cases
water) should be isolated. With this important step, the vast
majority of maintenance related disruption to other operations
and injuries can be prevented easily.
The air compressors can be often running on up to 600-700
volts, which means special care needs to be taken from design
through installation to maintenance. A major risk of compressed
air service activities is Arc Flash; the risk of this extremely
high temperature electrical flash can be mitigated if service
personnel follow a rigorous safety procedure and are dressed in
the correct protective clothing.
The compressed air system providers with a dedicated,
maintained and regularly inspected fleet will arrive in time and
will deliver the products in time, saving the customer money and
keeping the process lean.
To ensure the safe operation of an air compressor, regular
maintenance intervals should be kept even if the machine is up
and running without any issues. A well-scheduled visit from the
service provider will also prevent or minimise disruption to the
connecting plant operations. As an alternative, the investment
of a backup unit can also be considered. This is particularly
important, where compressed air is critical to production and
where any loss of air would cause expensive downtime.
The air compressors with an extended product life, lower
energy consumption and longer maintenance periods will certainly
act positively on mid and long-term capital and operational
expenditure but also result in less waste generated from the
replacement of fluids, filters and other consumable parts for a
more sustainable operation.
So is the safety of compressed air systems really just about
safety? Safety means better quality of services, less down time
of air compressors and lean operations at the end user side.