Spirometry in the workplace

Spirometry (lung infection)

Spirometry

Spirometry in the workplace is a lung function test that is carried out to confirm that the lungs are working normally. This test is used where there is a risk of substances being inhaled, which might harm the lungs.

The test is carried out using a machine which measures how big a breath you can take and how forcefully you can breathe out. The employee will be asked to complete a questionnaire asking questions relating to possible causes of altered lung function, and then to blow into the machine. as instructed by the occupational health professional.

Effects of breathing in dust or fumes

  • Silica dust from cutting or scrabbling concrete can cause lung disease
  • Dust from cutting or sanding hardwood can cause nasal cancer
  • Asbestos dust can cause cancer of the lungs or lining of the chest cavity
  • Welding fumes can result in ‘metal fume fever’ which has flu-like symptoms
  • Breathing in fumes from solvents and paint can lead

Sources of harmful dust or fumes

  • Silica dust from cutting or scrabbling concrete can cause lung disease
  • Dust from cutting or sanding hardwood can cause nasal cancer
  • Asbestos dust can cause cancer of the lungs or lining of the chest cavity
  • Welding fumes can result in ‘metal fume fever’ which has flu-like symptoms
  • Breathing in fumes from solvents and paint can lead to nausea, drowsiness, headaches and eventually, in some cases it can cause death

Precautions you can take

  • Where possible plan the job to eliminate harmful dust and fumes
  • If elimination is not possible then harmful dust and fumes must be controlled so that they are not breathed in by anyone
  • Some tools and plants are fitted with dust extraction and collection devices – if available use them
  • If your employer has provided portable extraction devices then use them
  • It may be necessary for you to wear respiratory protective equipment (RPE) to protect yourself from the effects of dust and fumes. If you have been issued this, then make sure you know how to use it
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