Air Compressor Safety: 10 Tips to Avoid Injury in the Workplace

Air compressors are complicated pieces of machinery with many potential safety hazards. Like all high-powered machinery, air compressors require safety measures to be in place to protect operators and other employees. We’ve created an air compressor safety checklist to help keep your business a safe place to work during compressor operations, repairs and maintenance.

Air Compressor Safety Checklist

  1. Power Down Fully Before Repairs: Before performing any troubleshooting or maintenance to your compressor, shut down the machine, disconnect it from the power source and ensure the air pressure has been relieved. Automatically controlled compressors can start at any time.
  2. Allow Time for the Compressor to Cool Down: Hot compressor parts, coolants and lubricants may cause burns if touched during or shortly after usage. Additionally, adding or changing oil or fuel while the unit is still hot could cause the unit to smoke or even catch fire.
  3. Drain the Compressor Tank Often: Draining the tank helps to prevent it from rusting and exploding. A rusty tank puts all employees working in the area in danger.  
  4. Keep Hands, Fingers, Hair and Clothing Away: An air compressor is a piece of rotating equipment that can quickly grab loose clothing or cause serious injury to extremities. Cooling fans, drive couplings and belts are all areas where extreme caution should be used.  
  5. Check the Electrical Outlet: Air compressors must be plugged into a grounded electrical outlet or they run the risk of electrical damage or fire.
  6. Choose the Right Compressor Location: Compressed air fumes can be hazardous if not in a well-ventilated space. The area should also have clean, dry inlet air to avoid rust and electrical issues.
  7. Do Not Use PVC Pipe: The use of PVC piping in compressed air applications is not safe or approved by OSHA. It can crack, burst and send pieces of shrapnel flying through your plant.
  8. Secure Tools and Hoses Before Starting the Compressor: Before operation, check pneumatic tools to make sure the trigger is not engaged and ensure hoses are secured. Loose hoses can fly off or whip uncontrollably, causing injury.
  9. Wear Protective Gear: Always wear ear and eye protection. Exposure to loud machinery like compressors can cause permanent hearing loss and flying debris can cause significant vision issues.
  10. Take Compressed Air Seriously: Compressed air hoses or tools should never be pointed at yourself or anyone else for any reason. Even low pressures can cause bodily injury, including ruptured organs. Industrial compressed air is also not intended for breathing air. Breathing air requires approved filtration, treatment and monitoring equipment that meets strict health and safety standards.

Keep in mind, even if you’ve used air compressors for years, there is valuable information in the manual about how to operate your specific model safely and efficiently. Explosions and fires occur every year from compressors that have safety devices bypassed. If your compressor’s safety devices have been bypassed or are not working properly or you are concerned about the general safety of your equipment, contact our factory trained service team at 800.222.4553. We have many replacement parts in stock and can repair issues as needed.

Cold Weather Diagnostic for Compressed Air Systems

With colder weather coming soon, compressed air systems that are subject to lower temperatures may deal with slow starting, possible control line freeze problems, and condensate lines freezing.  To help prevent some of these problems, heat lamps can be installed close to the lines to prevent freezing. Also, applying heat tape with a thermostat to control lines and condensate lines is a great way to protect your equipment located outside.  However, keep in mind that anything installed on the lines themselves might have to be removed when the equipment is being serviced.

Here is a basic cold weather diagnostic outline:

  • Check insulated areas and make sure the heat is staying inside and the cold is staying outside.
  • Also check any weather stripping and replace areas that are worn out and not working properly.
  • Check condensate drains throughout your system for proper operation. Excess water in your lines and freezing temperatures are not a good mix.
  • Check the intake for your air compressor. If it’s exposed to the outside elements, your inlet air filter can be damaged from ice and snow.
  • Compressed air receivers should be protected as well. If condensate is allowed to collect at the bottom of the tank it can freeze.  Insulate any outside pipes feeding the tank as well as the condensate drain for the tank.
  • Kind of a no brainer here, but make sure your compressed air dryer and compressed air filters have been serviced and are operating correctly. Their job is to remove condensate from your compressed air system.  The less condensate in the system the less there is to freeze and cause problems.

Contact us today if you need any help with addressing your cold weather vulnerabilities. Taking these proactive steps now, can help prevent some major problems once it turns cold outside.