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Employee respiratory problems and the value of spirometry testing

As an employer, you want to maximize your production, keep your costs as low as possible and avoid the incurrence of legal fees or fines whenever possible. One way to do this is to implement policies/procedures that are specifically designed to prevent serious work injuries.

However, it's important that these safety polices/procedures cover all types of potential work injuries, meaning those that are both external and internal.

To illustrate, it's important for employers in industries where employees are exposed to dusts, gases or other air contaminants to consider monitoring their respiratory health.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), this can be accomplished via spirometry testing, a procedure that measures the volume and flow of air moving in and out of a person's lungs.

The true value of spirometry testing is that it can help uncover significant changes/potential respiratory issues at a relatively early stage.

While spirometry testing is already mandated by OSHA in certain industries, the agency still recommends its implementation in situations where employees are:

  • Required to perform physically demanding tasks
  • Required to wear a respirator
  • Exposed to potential breathing hazards
  • Demonstrate breathing problems

In addition, OSHA recommends that employers take great care to provide quality spirometry testing, as improper testing can supply employees with potentially misleading (and dangerous) information.

Accordingly, OSHA recommends that employers verify the following when providing spirometry testing:

  • The test is performed by a knowledgeable and qualified health care professional who can provide documentation of their training and properly interpret results
  • The test is performed using properly maintained and calibrated equipment
  • The employee is provided with a comprehensive interpretation of their test results

Stay tuned for further developments in the area of workers' compensation defense law ...

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal or medical advice.

Related Resources:

OSHA, NIOSH encourage early detection of respiratory problems (Risk & Insurance)

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