Spirometry Testing Guidelines to Follow for Health Occupations

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970  (OSHA) was brought into force to ensure that a workers’ health would not be a stake at work. There are many benefits of respiratory therapy devices in workplaces that can help maintain the health of a worker. Spirometry is one of the most common types of pulmonary function tests (PFT) that is used to evaluate the respiratory health of workers in medical surveillance programs and to screen workers for their ability to perform specific tasks. Timely spirometry testing is essential for early detection, prevention, and treatment of fatal occupational lung diseases caused by inhaling hazardous elements at individual workplaces.

Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970  (OSHA)

OSHA developed spirometry testing guidelines to summarize the elements of a good occupational health spirometry program as it has become essential in many occupational health practices. These testing guidelines are intended for medical personnel who oversee worker health programs, conduct spirometry tests, and interpret spirometry results.  

The goal of the document is to ensure that the spirometry results collected are accurate, valid, correctly interpreted and in compliance with the OSHA standards. Such spirometry assessments can be used to make well-informed decisions about worker respiratory health (including the need for medical referrals), and to conduct programs for prevention and early intervention.

As per OSHA standards, spirometry testing guidelines state that for places of work that have to do with asbestos, cadmium, cotton dust, coke oven emissions. As per OSHA standards for workplaces that use respiratory protection and deal with formaldehyde and benzene, pulmonary function testing is a necessary element.

OSHA functions jointly with National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). They have two spirometry testing guidelines- one for the workers and one for the employers respectively.

Spirometry Testing Guidelines for Personnel

As per OSHA, the technician performing the pulmonary function test must possess the most critical quality of motivation to do tests for every employee. The technician must well judge the degree of effort and cooperation of the subject. The technicians who lack these skills will obtain test results that are useless and convey false information which could harm the employee.

The medical personnel should accurately interpret spirometry test results. They should be able to evaluate the technical quality of the test and not rely entirely on numerical results and computer interpretations.

Spirometry testing for occupational health requires a specific spirometry training course for personnel who screen the workers for lung conditions. The course is well designed and in compliance with National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, i.e., OSHA-NIOSH.

OSHA Also Recommends That

1) All personnel who intend to conduct occupational spirometry tests must complete an initial NIOSH- approved spirometry training course.

2) NIOSH-approved Refresher courses should be attended to maintain that certification over time.

3) OSHA recommends selecting a spirometer with accuracy and high precision and keeping daily calibration checks.

Spirometry testing guidelines state that the reports are part of an employee’s medical history and therefore it is recommended that they should be saved for 30 years after the termination of employment.

These tests have been an important step in many spirometry COPD diagnoses. This could essentially save a person’s life.  

To maintain the respiratory health of the workers, it is mandatory for the employer and employee to follow the spirometry testing guidelines issued by OSHA-NIOSH. Adhering to the guidelines will make spirometry test results accurate and meaningful, ensuring optimal health of your workforce, and best productivity.