WASHINGTON -- Woodworkers and others whose jobs expose them to respiratory hazards, are being urged by federal safety agencies to regularly undergo spirometry testing.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) developed two guidance documents, one for workers and one for employers, which describe the use of spirometry testing to help reduce and prevent worker exposure to respiratory hazards.

Spirometry is a common pulmonary function test that measures how well a person moves air in and out of the lungs. Workers who inhale some types of dusts, gases or other air contaminants can, over time, experience lung damage. The spirometry test may detect breathing problems or significant changes in a worker's lung function at an early stage. The information in these new guidance documents assists employers with identifying and eliminating hazardous workplace exposures and helping reduce or prevent the chances of workers developing lung disease.

Workers are encouraged to have a spirometry test performed every six months to three years, depending on what types and concentrations of hazardous dusts and gases with which one comes in contact.

The new OSHA-NIOSH-produced Infosheet for employers clarifies what spirometry is, when it is needed, and critical elements that employers can use to evaluate the quality of spirometry services provided to their workers. The Infosheet also describes how monitoring workers' lung function over time can help individuals by identifying problems early and make the workplace safer by identifying when workplace respiratory hazards are causing problems that must be corrected. The companion document, OSHA-NIOSH Worker Info, explains to workers the importance of taking a spirometry test, what to do during the test, and their right to receive an explanation and copy of test results.

Read more about OSHA-NIOSH guidance on occupational respiratory hazards.

Posted by Rich Christianson

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