Pulmonary Function

Spirometry is a medical screening test that measures various aspects of breathing and lung function.  It is performed by using a spirometer, a special device that registers the amount of air a subject inhales or exhales and the rate at which the air is moved into or out of the lungs.

Spirometric testing is utilized both for screening and an aid to diagnosis.  As a screening tool, spirometry is performed periodically on workers at risk for occupational lung disease due to exposure to specific respiratory hazards.  As a diagnostic tool, it is used when a patient has a specific medical complaint or finding, such as shortness of breath wheezing, etc.  It can also measure the effects of treatment regimens, such as use of bronchodilators or steroids.

WorkCare offers pulmonary function testing for a range of industry in Jackson, Memphis, Dyersburg and throughout West Tennessee.

More information from OSHA provided here.

Why do we do Spirometry in an Occupational Setting?

Medical Monitoring:

Spirometry is used for both pre-placement and periodic monitoring information.  It is normally used in conjunction with other assessment tools such as a medical history, physical exam, and chest x-ray to name a few.  It’s purpose is to:

  1. Determine pre-existing pulmonary disease and thereby facilitate job placement
  2. Periodically monitor workers exposed to hazardous respiratory substances
  3. Detect respiratory impairment at an earlier stage where corrective measures may be more beneficial

OSHA Compliance:

In June 1978, OSHA adopted the Cotton Dust Standard requiring companies to screen workers for early health effects due to exposure to cotton and other textile fibers.  Today OSHA requires spirometry in many of their standards.  It is a required part of medical surveillance to screen employees for exposure to occupational respiratory hazards.

Pre-shift and Post-shift Testing:

Testing  an employee before and after an occupational exposure can demonstrate a significant physiologic change that may be traced to the workplace and a specific exposure.  This is a requirement in some OSHA standards such as Cotton Dust.

Detect Changes Over Time:

Comparing annual spirometry to the employee’s baseline readings is essential in detecting a decrease over time.  A person’s results may remain within the normal ranges but may have decreased each year, indicating a potential problem.

For more information about how pulmonary function testing can help your company and protect your employees, contact us.