Why is Compressed Air Purity Testing Essential to be Conducted Within the Workplace?

Everyone knows that air is vital to the survival of not just humans but all organic life-forms. Humans, though very adaptable, still need breathing air tests to ensure that they are inhaling safe and healthy air, which is why compressed air purity testing is integral for that matter.

Many people can breathe contaminated air in the workplace without immediate or short-term effects; however, to avoid culminating effects, testing the purity of  air quality is essential. 

Any suspicion of air contamination within the workplace can be discovered through air-breathing checks. 

Quality of Air in the Workplace

There are a variety of settings that can be defined as the workplace. These could be outdoor or indoor spaces such as the office, factory or warehouse. For those who carry out their business indoors, harmful air conditions can be particularly disastrous. 

Workplaces in industrial sectors like chemical, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, oil and gas are particularly susceptible to poor air quality. Even relatively benign settings like offices are concerning. Typically, employers must provide safe compressed air systems as an alternative to ambient atmospheric air. 

Despite this, standard compressed air may be insufficient to ensure clean air. Employers must understand that untreated compressed air is not free of impurities. In fact, the compression of ambient air increases the concentration of contaminants present in ambient air and could include other components such as oil vapours and bacteria. 

Importance of Air Breathing Checks

It is vital to carry out air quality tests within a purified compressed air supply network to ensure that the control measures set up are functioning properly. If this is not so, workers could end up suffering from different respiratory or physical ailments due to these conditions. The employer is liable to repercussions arising from employees falling victim to insufficient air testing, including financial compensation.

BS EN12021, in the UK, urges samples to be collected and analysed a minimum of one time in three months. These checks should be carried out more frequently if there are changes or concerns with the production process.

Respiratory Equipment at Work (HSG53) of the HSE Guideline Document states that test frequency is dependent on risk assessments. In the UK, COSHH stipulates that locations of mobile breathing-air compressors must be investigated to ensure the absence of nearby pollutants.

Testing Air Breathing Quality

There are several techniques for breathing air testing, as outlined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. These include specialised equipment and detector tubes. If as an employee, you have concerns regarding the air quality of your workplace, endeavour to bring it to your boss’ attention and request testing.

Most workers who notice poor air quality are not safety specialists or trained hygienists, but there are still simple-to-use test kits that can be used by non-professionals.

Breathing Air Testing Conducted by Employers

BS EN 12021 stipulates the minimum requirements for breathing air. It states that all equipment and machinery for air compression must not contain concentrations of contaminants that reach harmful or toxic levels. Contaminants must be far below the national exposure limit, i.e., 1/10 of the nation’s 8-hour exposure limit. 

The frequency of air quality assessment checks should be conducted at least once every 3 months, though, ideally the sooner, the better. Breathing air testing records should be stored securely either in electronic or paper format and should be made easily accessible and retrievable for future requirements and examination requests by safety assessment inspectors or representatives.