Abrasive Blast Hood & Helmet Buying Guide
As a sandblaster one of the heaviest pieces of equipment that you have to deal with is your blast helmet or also often called a blast hood. Whether you’re a seasoned sandblaster or looking to get started your blast helmet can make your life easier or be a pain depending on the type of helmet you go with. In addition to comfort, your blast helmet helps fulfill critical safety regulations. This guide will cover pertinent safety regulations for sandblasting hoods and options to consider before buying a blast hood.
Pertinent Factor 1 to Consider – Blast Hood Safety Regulations
Blasting has a variety of safety regulations that apply from organizations like OSHA and the EPA. For blast hoods specific safety requirements include 29 CFR 1910.135 ,29 CFR 1910.134 and should be able to meet requirements as a ANSI head protection, ANSI classification will depend on your application but common levels of classification for blast hoods include class G or class C. You can learn more about ANSI classifications here, just know that Class G is a slightly higher rating in relation to electrical charge concerns. Additional safety regulations include NIOSH approval as a CE type respirator and noise reduction ability by NRR. Common blast hoods that meet these classifications include Bullard Blast Hoods, Clemco Blast Hoods, and others as well. As a quick note safety regulations suggest that the gear from the compress air filter to the operator should be from one manufacturer in order to ensure the validity of safety certifications interchanging the hood and blast hood supply hose can render safety certifications not valid.
Pertinent Factor 2 to Consider – Blast Hood Design
In general there are two broad categories of blast hoods. One is motorcycle style hood like a Nova 3 and the other is a suspension hard hat style blast hood. Many tend to think the motor cycle blast hoods stay in place a bit better but often will depend on each operator.
Pertinent Factor 3 to Consider about Blast Hoods – Climate Control
After you have decided on a blast hood type the next step to consider is if you want any type of climate control with your blast hood. Options you can consider include a cool air tube, a climate control tube, or neither. While no climate control is the cheapest option, you will also miss out on the ability to be cooled or warmed while blasting. If you blast in a climate with hot and cool temperatures, it is recommended to consider a climate control tube upgrade while if you blast in an area where it only gets hot you can consider just a cool air tube. Please note to use a climate control tube you have to be using an air compressor to supply air as cool air or climate control tubes will not work with a free air pump.
Pertinent Factor 4 to Consider when buying a Blast Hood – Visibility
After considering the design of the blast hood including that it meets pertinent safety standards, how it stays in place, and climate control next you should evaluate the blast hoods visibility. In general, a wrap around view allows for the best visibility in most situations like that offered in the blast hood pictured below. In addition to the sandblast hoods viewing area, you want to verify if the blast hood is offered with tear away lenses. With abrasive blasting the outer lens often frosts as blast media bounces around and hits the outside of your blast lens being able to remove the outer lens can help to maintain good visibility.
Pertinent Factor 5 to Consider when Buying a Blast Hood – CO Monitoring
If you use an air compressor to feed a blast hood you will typically need to monitor the air being supplied for any trace of carbon monoxide. There are remote monitors but to use them properly you should typically have someone that can monitor the remote for any issues. A newer option is a hood mounted carbon monoxide monitor like the CMS 3. If you want to use a hood mounted monitor it may be limited to certain helmets if you want the helmet to retain NIOSH certification, for example, the CMS 3 when inserted into a Clemco blast helmet allows the Clemco blast hood to remain NIOSH approved but other helmets this would not hold true for.
Pertinent Factor 6 to Consider when Buying a Blast Hood – Air Supply Type
Another factor to consider is whether you will feed your blast operator air from a free air pump or a compressor. This matters only because it will determine if you select a low pressure (free air pump enabled) or high pressure (used with compressed air) blast helmet design.
Pertinent Factor 7 to Consider when Buying a Blast Hood – Initial Cost and Replacement Part Cost
A final factor is an overall cost associated with using the blast helmet. Beyond the cost of the helmet itself you may want to check the cost of replacement components, especially outer and intermediate lenses as these are common wear items and some companies have been known to have replacement components that are quite a bit more expensive than others. By knowing this information up front you can determine that the helmet will not be excessively expensive to maintain.
Ultimately a blast hood is a determining factor in your operating comfort as a sandblaster. By evaluating that the hood meets proper safety requirements, the potential features you want to include with your blast hood, and the costs associated with the blast hood you can be better able to choose a blast hood that will be safe and effective for your blasting needs.