Compressed air has a wide array of uses and whether you realise it or not, has daily impacts on your life. The average consumer would come across compressed air at home when using an aerosol can or lesser-used products like a soda stream and a whipped cream dispenser.
However, industrial processes are really where we see our dependence on compressed air cylinders for everyday life. The greatest impact on the common consumer is in food production. Food manufacturing and preparation companies need a supply of clean and safe compressed air to function.
Compressed air is also used in protective respiratory equipment. There are a few different types of protective respiratory equipment, but the only one that uses compressed air is the supplied-air respirators, which is most recognisable on fire fighters in the form of breathing apparatus (SCBA). Protective respiratory equipment is used for a few reasons:
Due to its far-reaching uses across a variety of industries, compressed air is subject to varying quality. There are two sets of standards that air compressor quality testing can be held to:
Compressed Air Purity International Standard. ISO8573-1:2010 is broken up into six different quality levels by measuring three contaminants: Water Vapour, Oil content and Solid Particles. The compressed air will be categorised into a level depending on levels of each contaminant, which is determined through several tests. In Australia, these standards are used for industries like:
Selection, use and maintenance of respiratory protective equipment. Refers to standards of compressed breathing air in Australia. As a part of the Work Health and Safety Laws, compressed air must meet specific requirements and quality testing, in most states this testing is required annually. Some common industries that may require AS1715:2009 testing are:
Having compressed air free of impurities and a certain quality ensures it can safely be used as breathing air, in machinery, or to create a quality product. Air compressor quality testing is there to protect your employees, consumers, reputation and the product.
As a part of Australian Standard AS1715:2009, any respiratory equipment requires regular checks and testing to ensure that the devices supply the necessary amount of air to the user and that that air is free of contaminants. This testing needs to be conducted using accredited sampling and analysis methodologies by a trained professional.
You can do your own self-assessment testing, although not to the same degree. It is suggested you always check equipment before and after each use to ensure there is no damage to the system, but this cannot be substituted into and used instead of your regulatory testing.
Air compressor systems, like most machinery, need regular testing to ensure they are safe to use. Every day or general use can cause damage to an air compressor system, and as a system ages, it is more likely for parts to fail or breakdown. Due to the serious nature of air compressor systems used in respiratory equipment, professional air compressor quality testing should be carried out regularly to ensure the user’s safety and ensure your business can operate as usual.
For respiratory equipment, checks and tests are carried out to ensure the air composition is safe for breathing. To meet the Australian AS1715:2009 standards the air compressor quality testing measures the concentration levels of Oxygen, Carbon Monoxide, Carbon Dioxide, Oil, water vapour, air temperature, air humidity, air volume and odour of the air.
It is common to find solid particles, water vapour and oil residue or vapour in an air compressor system during testing.
Newcastle Safety Servicing recommends organising an air compressor quality testing schedule on a 6-month basis or as needed within that 6 months. Although, AS1715:2009, only requires annual testing to meet its standards. This testing ensures the workers using these devices are safe and free from harm and risk.
It is important to note that breathing air quality testing should follow the quality requirements outlined in AS1715:2009 – Selection, use, and respiratory protective equipment maintenance. Each test should be documented, and a record kept of the results to ensure your testing schedule is up to date, and all air compressor systems that require repairs, calibrations, or retirement can be taken out of use.
Newcastle safety servicing also recommends user look over the equipment before and after each use. This self-assessment can help identify wear and tear on the piping and storage tanks, which if found, should prompt that system to be put aside and not used again until proper testing can be carried out.
The Newcastle Safety Servicing team are industry professionals who understand the demands and hassles of air compressor systems and their testing. If you are still asking the question about air compressor quality testing, feel free to get in touch with the Newcastle Safety Servicing team on (02) 4960 1372 to ask any questions you have about your compressor air quality testing.