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OSHA Issues Guidance Concerning Tests to Diagnose Lung Dysfunction

Posted: April 5, 2011

OSHA recently released two guidance documents focusing on the use of spirometry – a pulmonary function test that measures how well a person moves air in and out of the lungs – to detect significant changes in a worker's lung function due to the inhalation of dust, gases or other air contaminates that, over time, can result in lung damage.

The first document is designed for employers and describes the need for spirometry testing and how a screening program can be implemented. The other guidance document is designed for workers and stresses the need for spirometry testing for those who are required to perform tasks that are physically demanding, require a respirator or cause exposure to possible breathing hazards.

Spirometry testing should be part of any physical examination, whether or not required by OSHA, for employees who, as part of their employment duties, are exposed to hazardous and toxic chemicals or inhale dust, gasses or other air contaminates. Spirometry testing can also indicate lung dysfunction caused by non-workplace conditions such as cigarette smoke and other non-workplace causes.