By Jena Williams

The trucking industry is so varied, not just in what you haul and where and how many stops you make…I could go on!  It includes a variety of occupations: drivers, loaders, mechanics and dispatchers.  We at TIRES want to keep you all safe and working, so today I’d like to shine the light on a common hazard for mechanics – compressed air.

As those of you in the field know, but to enlighten the rest of us, mechanics use compressed air (up to 80-110 psi) for tire inflation and impact wrench work.

It is also sometimes used for surface cleaning and this is where it gets dangerous. Workers are REQUIRED to reduce the pressure to 30 psi for surface cleaning, but since this is often not an effective pressure, they sometimes knowingly or unknowingly increase the pressure for effectiveness.

Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!

Using air compressors for surface cleaning sends all kinds of dust and debris into the air. This can injure your eyes or lungs or those of a passerby. Additionally, compressed air at 100 psi can break the skin, causing an embolism in an artery and even death. You can see why it is illegal in Washington State to use an air compressor to clean the body or clothing on the body.

Air compressors are one of those tools that people like to get MacGyver-y about. Please don’t! Never tamper with the air gun nozzle or any other parts.

We all get complacent around dangerous tools that we use every day, but mechanics you are vital to this industry. We want to keep you safe and healthy. So please stay “on guard!”

Here is more info on using compressed air: http://www.lni.wa.gov/WISHA/Rules/portablepowertools/HTML/296-807-140.htm#WAC296-807-14020

From our friends north of the border: http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/safety_haz/compressed_air.html

Do you have other tips to share on safely using compressed air? Please comment below.