One of the most common uses of compressed air in the workplace is for cleaning, whether it be a machine, a product or even a worker. At the right pressure, compressed air is safe and effective; however, without adequate knowledge, blowing debris from various locations can be dangerous not only to yourself but to those around you.
As a rule of thumb, using compressed air to self-clean should not be practiced for multiple reasons. Because compressed air is extremely forceful, it can cause lacerations to the skin that can result in severe internal or external bleeding. Furthermore, the misdirection of the air towards the face can threaten the health of the eyes, ears and other important body parts. It is also possible to push air into a cut in the skin, causing a bubble of air to reach the blood stream. This is medically classified as an embolism, a condition which can cause the victim to go into a coma, become paralyzed or even lose his or her life.
Of course, compressed air does not have to come into direct contact with the skin to cause damage. When cleaning products, it is very possible that debris such as dirt and paint can become airborne, launching at the workers skin and causing significant pain. Additionally, cleaning floors with compressed air is capable of kicking up debris that when inhaled can cause respiratory issues.
To properly protect from these risks, one must choose to actively pursue a safe environment. Using hearing and eye protection daily in the workplace will lower the likelihood of a facial injury. Choosing to put an air nozzle on the end of an air gun can also prevent potential injuries. Finally, cleaning at 30 psi or less lessens the risk of a possible on-site accident.