Air Gun FAQ

What OSHA standards govern the use of air guns?

For General Industry, two OSHA standards are of primary relevance to air gun users.

  1. The first standard focuses on permissible noise exposure covered under 29CFR Part 1910.95 (a) Occupational Noise Exposure. Click for OSHA website link.
  2. The second standard focuses on the use of compressed air used for cleaning covered under 29CFR Part 1910.242 (b) Hand and Portable Powered Tools and Equipment, General. Click for OSHA website link.

Please explain OSHA Standard 29CFR Part 1910.95 (a) Occupational Noise Exposure.

To address the issue of excessive noise in the workplace, OSHA developed permissible daily noise exposure specifications. Since air guns may contribute to high levels of occupational noise, their usage should be factored into daily noise exposure levels.

Please explain OSHA Standard 29CFR Part 1910.242 (b) Hand and Portable Powered Tools and Equipment, General.

Factory air lines normally operate at pressures between 80 and 120 psi and the majority of pneumatic tools, including air guns, require such pressures to operate effectively. However, OSHA requires that in the event an air line is dead-ended (for example, if the tip of an air gun is blocked), the static pressure at the point of blockage must be less than 30 psi.

This standard also states that when blowing off debris with an air gun, workers may be subject to "chip-fly-back." This term refers to the tendency of loose particles or chips to fly back into the operator's face, eyes, or skin. For operations that produce chip-fly-back, OSHA requires that effective chip guarding be incorporated into the workplace.

For compliance details with this standard, see OSHA Instruction STD 01-13-001 (OSHA PROGRAM DIRECTIVE #100-1). Click for OHSA website link.

Are there any other OSHA standards that I should be aware of?

Yes. Shipyards, Marine Terminals and Construction are industries where additional standards apply regarding the use of compressed air and pneumatic tools.

  • For Shipyards, the relevant standard is 29CFR Part 1915.131 General Precautions. Click for OSHA website link.
  • For Marine Terminals, the relevant standard is 29CFR Part 1917.154 Compressed Air. Click for OSHA website link.
  • For Construction, the relevant standard is 29CFR Part 1926.302(b) Pneumatic Power Tools. Click for OSHA website link.

How can Guardair safety air guns help meet the OSHA standard for noise?

While occupational noise can be generated from a wide variety of sources, the use of a low noise safety air gun can be an important component in moving towards noise compliance. Guardair safety air guns featuring WhisperJet and QuietForce nozzles provide proprietary, noise limiting technology. Click for technical data on Guardair nozzles.

How do Guardair safety air guns meet the OSHA standard for output pressure?

All Guardair safety air guns meet this standard by incorporating OSHA compliant, proprietary nozzles into their design. These include Venturi, AirMiser, Air Shield, WhisperJet, and QuietForce type nozzles. Click for technical data on Guardair nozzles.

Is it necessary to turn my air compressor down to 30 psi to meet OSHA Standard 29CFR Part 1910.242 (b) relating to output pressure?

No. This is popular misconception and is not necessary for compliance. To meet this requirement, use an air gun that is properly engineered. All Guardair safety air guns meet this standard.

Is it permissible to tape an air gun trigger down ("always on mode") to provide constant air flow?

While the OSHA regulations do not specifically prohibit this practice, Guardair does not recommend doing so. Disabling the "dead-man" feature inherent with the trigger mechanism could result in the air tool whipping around and causing serious injury.

What is the advantage of Guardair safety air guns versus straight pipes?

Safety air guns offer numerous advantages over straight pipes.

  1. First, straight pipes are inefficient as they use significantly more compressed air to produce the same amount of thrust versus a properly engineered safety air gun.
  2. Second, straight pipes are often regulated with a ball valve which does not include the "dead-man" feature inherent with the trigger mechanism of a safety air gun.
  3. Third, straight pipes are not tools designed with ergonomic features thus over time introduce operator fatigue. Finally, straight pipes are illegal and dangerous because they do not meet the OSHA standard limiting output pressure to less than 30 psi when dead-ended.

What is the difference between Pressure, Flow, and Thrust?

Pressure is the measure of potential energy stored within compressed air. Pressure is measured in pounds per square inch (psi). In general, most industrial compressed air systems operate at pressures between 80 and 120 psi. The electrical equivalent of pressure is voltage.

Flow is the volume of compressed air traveling through an air gun during a given period of time. Flow is measured in cubic feet per minute (cfm). In general, the higher the flow, an increased capacity (larger diameter) air line, and an increased capacity (larger horsepower) air compressor will be required. The electrical equivalent of flow is amperage.

Thrust is the effective force produced by an air gun and is generated from the combination of air pressure and air flow. Thrust is measured in pounds (lbs) and the higher the thrust, the more cleaning force is available. Ideally, thrust of say 10 pounds is capable of moving up to a 10 pound object. The electrical equivalent of thrust is wattage.

What is the recommended operating air pressure for Guardair safety air guns?

Most in-plant air compressors operate at pressures between 80 and 120 psi. This is the range we recommend for Guardair safety air guns.

What is the maximum plant air pressure I can use and still be OSHA compliant?

Guardair does not recommend operating our air guns at pressures over 120 psi. Although the structural integrity of Guardair safety air guns have been tested and proven well above 120 psi, they have been designed to operate most efficiently and to meet the OSHA standard regarding output pressure at air pressures between 80 and 120 psi. Consequently, Guardair cannot certify that our air guns meet this OSHA standard at pressures in excess of 120 psi.

What size air line do I need to run my Guardair safety air gun?

In general, Guardair safety air guns featuring a ¼" NPT inlets require ¼" ID or larger air lines. Air guns with a 3/8" NPT inlets require 3/8" ID or larger air lines. Air guns with a ¾" NPT inlet require ¾" ID or larger air lines. To ensure rated thrust, air lines can always be sized larger than required, but not smaller.

What about connectors and fittings?

Be sure that fittings and/or connectors do not restrict the air flow in any manner. Use fittings that are rated the same size, or larger, for a given air line size. Where recommended use Guardair High Flow connectors.

What size (capacity) air compressor do I need to operate my Guardair safety air gun?

A good rule of thumb states that air compressors generate approximately 4.5 cubic feet per minute (cfm) of compressed air per horsepower (HP) on a continuous basis. To size a compressor (HP), divide the air requirement (cfm) by 4.5. Refer to the specification on your compressor for more information.

Why does my air gun lack power?

The three most common problems are:

  1. Undersized air lines
  2. Restrictions due to undersized fittings and/or connectors
  3. Inadequate plant air pressure or capacity

If I block the side ports of a venturi nozzle with tape will I increase the thrust?

Absolutely not! Blocking the side ports does not provide extra power at the nozzle tip. Thrust is actually reduced because ambient outside air cannot be drawn into the outgoing air stream. In addition, the nozzle is now OSHA non-compliant.

What is the maximum ambient temperature in which I can operate my Guardair safety air gun?

The maximum ambient temperature in which our air guns can be used is 200°F.

I recently purchased a HydroForce, hooked up the air and water lines, but only air comes out of the nozzle. Why?

The probable cause is inadequate air flow and/or air pressure.

  1. First, be sure to use an air line that provides adequate air flow to the HydroForce.
  2. Second, be sure that all air fittings and connectors are adequately sized and offer no restrictions.
  3. Third, ensure that the operating air pressure measures between 80 and 120 psi. Click for video demo, including set-up and operation, of the HydroForce.

What is the maximum ambient temperature in which I can use my HydroForce?


Does Guardair offer replacement parts and/or repair kits for safety air guns?

We carry replacement parts for the vast majority of our guns. You can purchase replacement nozzles, extensions, and handles, as well as gun rebuild kits.

How are extended reach air guns (ie Long Johns) assembled?

First, thread locker is applied to the threads of each component (nozzle, extension, and handle). Components are then screwed together and tightened to factory specifications. The result is a semi-permanent connection with structural integrity.

Can I unscrew the extension of my Long John and screw in different extensions?

While this is possible, Guardair does not recommend this practice. Doing so first requires breaking the bond of the thread locker with heat from a blow torch or the like. Repeated screwing and unscrewing extensions runs the risk of galling the threads which are not designed with this in mind.

How do I make my extended reach air gun longer?

All of the Ultra, LJ, XT and 80LJ series are compatible with our mid-extension kits and can easily be extended. Mid-extension kits come in 48", 60", and 72" lengths and come complete with a coupler. To add a mid-extension, first break the thread locker bond at the extension/handle connection using a blow torch. Unscrew the extension. Screw one end of the mid-extension into the handle. Screw the other end of the mid-extension into the coupler. Finally, screw the extension into the coupler.

We use Guardair extended reach air guns in a particularly rough working environment and I need to ensure that the nozzle never comes apart from the extension. Is there any way to do this?

Yes. In addition to our standard thread locker, we offer the option to pin the nozzle to the extension. We refer to this as a PERM1 connection. We also offer an optional PERM2 connection where the nozzle is pinned to the extension, and the extension is pinned to the handle. Contact our Customer Service Department at 800-482-7324.

Does Guardair sell replacement parts for the 79SG012 Syphon Spray Gun?

Guardair offers the replacement nozzle but not the replacement barrel for the 79SG012. The barrel is permanently attached to the body of the gun and is not repairable.

Why can't I purchase an extension only, or nozzle only, for my Force 5 air gun?

Extensions with permanently attached nozzles are sold as a complete assembly to ensure OSHA compliance.

I need a safety air gun with the ability to clean around and/or behind an obstruction. Does Guardair offer such a product?

Yes. Guardair can provide a factory installed angle on the extension of our extended reach air guns. We will bend it to whatever degree you require with some limitations. Please contact our Customer Service Department at 800-482-7324.

Is the Model 86FLX compatible with any of the Guardair safety air gun handles?

The 86FLX comes complete with a ¼" NPT (male) fitting for use with ¼" FNPT (female) connector or fitting. It is not compatible with the outlet thread on any of our air gun handles. For a safety air gun with a flexible extension, see the Guardair Model 80FLEX12.