What is Occupational Health Spirometry Testing?

Discover the importance of occupational health spirometry testing in supporting employees with pulmonary diseases. Around 26 million Americans grapple with these conditions, affecting their daily lives and job performance. Spirometry measures lung function, assisting in diagnosis and creating safer workplaces. Learn how modern technology and non-invasive methods are making spirometry testing more accessible, helping businesses in high-risk industries prioritize employee health. If your employees are at risk, this article sheds light on a valuable solution.
workers examining tanks and valves

In every industry, employees face a diverse array of risks to their health. In particular, many workplaces have an abundance of pulmonary hazards, like dust, chemicals, and smoke. Organizations have an ethical and legal obligation to promote a safe workplace, removing and mitigating unnecessary risk. 

One critical aspect of safeguarding workers against occupational hazards involves implementing comprehensive health monitoring programs. In these programs, monitoring employees’ respiratory health and function is critical. Occupational health spirometry testing promotes respiratory health and prevents advanced occupational lung disease. 

Let’s discuss the importance of spirometry testing for occupational health, focusing on common occupational lung diseases and how spirometry testing can prevent them. 

Understanding Spirometry Testing and Occupational Health

Spirometry is a diagnostic medical test that measures the amount and speed of air that can be inhaled and exhaled from the lungs. This test assesses respiratory function by qualifying lung volumes and airflow. This assessment evaluates overall lung function, detects abnormalities, and provides a baseline for monitoring changes over time. This respiratory test is increasingly being employed in occupational health settings due to its ability to detect respiratory illness and impairment early.

 In the workplace, spirometry testing is indispensable for monitoring workers exposed to various airborne hazards, allowing for the early identification of respiratory impairments and implementing preventive measures to ensure a healthier workforce.

Occupational Health Concerns

Occupational hazards are an unfortunate reality in the modern workplace. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, dust, fumes, gases, vapors, and biological agents are among the most common respiratory hazards in the work environment. Though all industries face respiratory hazards on some level, high-risk industries such as manufacturing, construction, agriculture, and healthcare are particularly vulnerable. Frequent exposure to these hazards can lead to the development of occupational health diseases.

Some of the most common occupational lung diseases include:

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Occupational Asthma
  • Pneumoconiosis
  • Lung Cancer
  • Respiratory Tuberculosis
  • Malignant mesothelioma
  • Pneumonia

Spirometry serves an essential role in the identification and management of these illnesses. The diverse range of respiratory hazards and potential for lung disease underscores the necessity of integrating spirometry testing into occupational health strategies.

Role of Spirometry in Occupational Health

Spirometry testing serves several roles in promoting employee health and preventing occupational lung disease.

Screening and Monitoring

Spirometry testing helps organizations monitor the lung health and function of their workforces. Organizations can use this test to evaluate their baseline lung health as employees enter the workforce, creating a reference point for future testing.  Following this initial screening, organizations can regularly use spirometry testing to monitor employee health and track changes in their lung function over time. This enables early detection of pulmonary abnormalities and provides an opportunity for prompt interventions.

Detecting Lung Function Abnormalities

Spirometry testing also provides a comprehensive assessment of employee lung function, offering insight into any abnormalities in respiratory health. These tests can detect restrictive and obstructive lung disease by measuring the intake and output of air from one’s lungs. Restrictive lung diseases, like interstitial lung disease, prevent the lungs from properly filling up. On the other hand, obstructive lung disease, like asthma, reduces airflow output. Early detection of lung abnormalities is crucial to preventing more serious lung conditions. 

Assessing the Impact of Occupational Exposures

Spirometry testing also helps organizations understand the impact of occupational hazards like dust, chemicals, and gases. These tests can help identify changes in employees’ lung health over time. By comparing these test results to exposure history, organizations can identify relationships between occupational hazards and respiratory health in the workplace. This allows them to use targeted interventions and preventative measures to manage employees’ exposure to dangerous hazards. 

Spirometry testing is more than just a diagnostic tool; it protects and promotes employee lung health.

Spirometry Testing Process

These tests are very simple and can be performed by occupational health professionals. During the test, a clip is placed on your nose, and a plastic mouthpiece is put in your mouth. Both pieces connect to the spirometry machines. During the test, the provider will ask you to take in as big and deep of a breath as possible and blow it out as fast and hard as possible. Using maximum effort in these exercises is important to get the most accurate results. This test is performed three times to ensure the best results.

Spirometry testing in an occupational health context is crucial for promoting employee safety and fostering a resilient, healthy workforce.

We Can Help!

Work Health Solutions has made it our mission to help provide necessary healthcare for those who need it. We are particularly concerned with the working environment. We understand the difficulty of taking care of employees in the workplace. If you plan to conduct occupational health spirometry testing, contact us today to help get it done efficiently.

Work Health Solutions

Work Health Solutions

About Us

Work Health Solutions is dedicated to preserving a safe work environment and improving existing programs and care for local, regional and national organizations.

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Dr. Michael Tenison

A series of notable accomplishments distinguish Dr. Michael Tenison’s career in medical operations and healthcare management:

  • Successfully led medical operations at a national healthcare provider, focusing on optimizing healthcare delivery and patient outcomes.
  • Oversaw the regional medical practices in key markets like Oregon and Northern California, ensuring consistent, quality medical care and service delivery.
  • Demonstrated exceptional leadership in building and mentoring a large medical provider team, enhancing team performance and patient care standards.
  • Implemented strategic company policies and protocols, significantly improving center efficiency, clinical quality, and patient experiences.
  • Played a pivotal role in financial planning and identifying growth opportunities for healthcare services, contributing to the organization’s overall success.
  • Served as a primary point of contact for regional employer clients and insurance companies, fostering strong relationships and effective communication.
  • Maintained high medical care and case management standards through diligent supervision, chart audits, and performance metric analysis.

Dr. Matt Feeley

Dr. Matt Feeley is a renowned figure in military aviation medicine, with a robust background in occupational and environmental medicine from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

  • Former Naval Flight Surgeon, exemplifying his expertise in aerospace medicine and commitment to military health.
  • Served with distinction at NSA Bahrain and HSM-37, earning the COMPACFLT Flight Surgeon of the Year award for exceptional medical service.
  • Supported U.S. Marines VMFA-323 aboard the USS Nimitz, MACG-38, and VMU-3, demonstrating versatility and leadership in diverse medical environments.
  • Broad interests and significant contributions in global health, corporate medicine, and aerospace medicine, highlighting his multidisciplinary approach.
  • Proven track record as a dynamic leader, well-equipped to face the challenges in a fractional medical directorship role with innovative solutions.

Dr. Glen Cheng

A physician-attorney with a dedication to healthcare innovation, informatics, and digital health.

  • Currently spearheads employee health protection and promotion within the VA Pittsburgh Health Care System.
  • Trained in residency at Harvard, achieving board certification as a physician; also a licensed patent attorney with experience as FDA regulatory counsel.
  • Co-founded Acceleromics, a consulting firm providing clinical and regulatory guidance to digital health startups.

Erin Davis

 Chief Clinical Officer at Work Health Solutions, certified in Adult-Gerontology (AGNP-C) and Athletic Training (ATC).

  • Oversees clinical operations and ensures high clinical standards across the company’s national field staff.
  • Former Manager of Clinic Operations and Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner at Stanford University Occupational Health Center (SUOHC).
  • Specialized in treating occupational injuries and illnesses, and provided medical surveillance and travel medicine consults at Stanford and SLAC National Accelerator Lab.
  • Dedicated to sports and occupational injury treatment and prevention.
  • Assistant Clinical Faculty at UCSF, mentoring students in clinical rotations within the Adult Gerontology and Occupational and Environmental Health Program.
  • Holds leadership roles as Treasurer and President Elect of the California El Camino Real Association of Occupational Health Nurses (CECRAOHN), affiliated with the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN).

Dr. Robert Goldsmith

Expert in benefits design and onsite innovation with specialization in the pharmaceutical industry.

  • Previous role as Executive Director for Employee Health at Novartis Services, Inc., leading health services and clinical support.
  • Instrumental in creating an integrated healthcare system at Novartis.
  • Former private practice in internal medicine in Stamford, Connecticut, and Medical Director consultant for GTE Corporation.
  • Transitioned to GE as a Global Medical Director in 2000.
  • Holds a medical degree from Albert Einstein College, an MPH from the University of Connecticut, and completed training at Greenwich Hospital and Yale-New Haven Medical Center.
  • Assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at the Vagelos School of Medicine, Columbia University.
  • Serves as a team physician for high school athletes in Stamford.
  • Published works on occupational health risks, primary prevention, and exercise-induced asthma.