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Pneumatic Controls: HVAC Safety You Need to Know

HVAC system controls cover a broad range of functions, products, and sources of supply. Control is defined as the regulation of ventilating, heating, and air conditioning. Application of HVAC pneumatic controls begins by understanding buildings, plants, HVAC systems and the spaces to be controlled. In most cases, the type of HVAC determines the control sequence. There are different types of controls such as pneumatic, analog electronic, electric, or DDC (Direct Digital Control).

Despite the new technology in HVAC controls, there are several pneumatic buildings and plants out there. In case you or your employees are in charge of working on pneumatic controls, you most likely know how frustrating it can be in a situation when a problem arises with the system. Your employees should know some operator responsibilities.

By its design, pneumatics isn’t complicated. However, you shouldn’t overlook the importance of maintenance. Pneumatics controls require two main types of maintenance. The first one is ensuring that its air supply is always clean, dry, and reliable at all times and the second one is making sure that your employees carry out a routine maintenance program, inspecting and adjusting all control programs. If this isn’t done, the thermostats and pneumatic controls can eventually drift from their set point.

Pneumatics is a part of engineering that uses pressurized air or gas. The most commonly used gases include nitrogen and carbon dioxide. The gas is contained in a tank that is compressed to thousands of PSI (pounds per square inch). Pneumatic control systems have several components, and each component plays an important part in the performance of the system. In case one fails, the whole system will malfunction. Therefore, it’s important that your employees know the different important parts of pneumatic systems.

Role Played by Pneumatic Controls in HVAC Systems

Pneumatic control systems use gas or compressed air to control HVAC systems. The compressed air is transported via plastic tubes and copper from a controller to the control device, which is often a valve actuator or damper. This method of control also relies on thermostats and sensors that retain or bleed the line pressure from the sensors to the actuator and control device.

Each sensor responds to changes in humidity, temperature, and static pressure, and provides feedback to the control loop that either opens up or closes the actuator to meet the controllers’ set point. Actuators have springs and diaphragms that function in sequence without control signals. This system makes use of compressed air to communicate. Every thermostat in any building or plant that has a pneumatic control system will often have more than one air lines that are connected to it from the primary source of compressed air and valve.

Important Safety Measures When Dealing With Pneumatic Controls

Safety is one of the most important concerns in any working environment, whether it’s in a factory or construction setting. OSHA requires you to eliminate any potential threats  to your employees, and this can be possible by enrolling for a pneumatic control safety-training program. Keep in mind that well-trained employees will not only reduce the probability of sustaining injuries but also decrease the possibility of machines getting broken or damaged. Your company will also be less likely to incur unexpected down times, replacements, or costly repairs when your employees operate under a practical set of safety procedures.

When your employees are handling high-powered machinery, for instance, air compressors and impact tools that use air pressure, even simple mishandling can result in damage to the machine and other connected parts. Reading the manual for the machines can help, but is definitely not a substitute for instructor-led training.

Safety Requirements when Operating and Maintaining Pneumatic Control Machinery

All compressed air systems need to be operated and inspected by trained and qualified employees. Regardless of the type of tools being used, it’s important to wear protective gear for your eyes and ears at all times. Several risks are involved when one fails to wear hearing guards. According to research by the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that from the year 2004, there have been over 120,000 cases of work-related hearing loss.

Investing in health and safety training in your workplace has numerous benefits both to you as the employer and to your employees who are vulnerable to potential risk. The training will equip your employees to work safely in your premises, which will empower them to be maximally productive. To learn more about HVAC pneumatic control safety training, be sure to contact NTT Training today.

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