19 March, 2018

Question time

10 November, 2014

As the British Compressed Air Society’s (BCAS) technical officer, Greg Bordiak is used to dealing with a wide range of questions from both members and end-users. Here, he answers some of the most frequently asked questions.

Q1. Can you send someone round as my air receiver needs a ‘pressure test?’

There is a common misconception that a ‘pressure test’ on an air receiver should be treated as a standalone examination. In fact, it was way back in 1961 when the last Factories Act was produced that applied to air receivers alone and requirements have clearly moved on since then.

The correct approach is to identify whether the compressed air system has a written scheme of examination as required by the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations (PSSR). The PSSR, which replaced the Factories Act, states that a compressed air system requires a written scheme of examination (Reg.8), which can then be applied by an examiner (Reg.9).

There are various techniques for examining and assessing the safety of compressed air systems of which a pressure test is only one. With the introduction of the Hazardous Waste Regulations for example, customers and suppliers have to think carefully about the disposal of waste or oily water and whether they have a license from the local authority to discharge trade effluent.

In short if there is no written scheme then the compressed air system is being operated illegally and no examination can take place.

Q2 What pressure should my blow gun run at?

Before advising on any pressure levels, the real question to ask is whether operatives are fully advised on how to use a blow gun safely and responsibly.

Areas that should always be explored first are whether the blowguns that are on site have safety features built in and whether the correct types of PPE have been specified and are being worn?

It is possible that there is a need to use blowguns at general factory air pressure so that there is enough energy to carry out the work required. Thankfully, there are a large number of safety type blowguns on the market but there is still a large installed base of the old style, non-safety models.

It is important that the guns are regularly inspected and serviced to ensure that they still function correctly and that none of the safety features have been overridden. It is also essential that the guns are operated correctly and only used for the purpose they are intended for. To illustrate, someone with a small wound or cut on the hand or arms could sustain severe injury if a blowgun operating at just six bar or below strikes that part of the body.

Another question to ask is whether staff that are using non-safety pattern type guns have been instructed in their safe use. As a general rule, the pressure on these should be limited to two bar as well as insisting that all operatives wear protective clothing.

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