Hazards of Compressed Air
People often lack respect for the power in compressed air because air is so common and is often viewed as harmless. At sufficient pressures, compressed air can cause serious damage if handled incorrectly. To minimize the hazards of working with compressed air, all safety precautions should be followed closely.
Small leaks or breaks in the compressed air system can cause minute particles to be blown at
extremely high speeds. Always wear safety glasses when working in the vicinity of any
compressed air system. Safety goggles are recommended if contact lenses are worn.
Compressors can make an exceptional amount of noise while running. The noise of the
compressor, in addition to the drain valves lifting, creates enough noise to require hearing
protection. The area around compressors should normally be posted as a hearing protection
Pressurized air can do the same type of damage as pressurized water. Treat all operations on
compressed air systems with the same care taken on liquid systems. Closed valves should be
slowly cracked open and both sides should be allowed to equalize prior to opening the valve
further. Systems being opened for maintenance should always be depressurized before work
Great care should be taken to keep contaminants from entering air systems. This is especially
true for oil. Oil introduced in an air compressor can be compressed to the point where
detonation takes place in a similar manner as that which occurs in a diesel engine. This
detonation can cause equipment damage and personnel injury.