Home » Resources » Dictionary » Terms

Definition - What does Spirometry mean?

More specifically, spirometry as it relates to occupational health and safety, it is used to test to ensure that a worker is not getting sick from exposure to chemical or material substances at a workplace. Spirometry is a common pulmonary function test (PFT) that measures how quickly and how much air a person can inhale and exhale in one forced breath. Spirometry is used to diagnose pulmonary conditions that can affect normal breathing. Patients are required to inhale to their top lung capacity and exhale through the mouthpiece as fast and forcefully as possible until their lungs are emptied. In the context of occupational health, spirometry testing is required to determine personal protective equipment compatibility and the assessment of health-risk exposure environments. Safety standards require a spirometry testing for workers who work at risk of exposure of harsh chemicals or material as part of medical surveillance.

SureHire explains Spirometry

A spirometry test is regularly used to determine if a subject is suffering of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, or pulmonary fibrosis, as well as some other less common conditions. Results of the test will determine if the condition of the patient is an obstructive airways disease (such as asthma or COPD) or restrictive lung disease (such as pulmonary fibrosis). If a patient has already been diagnosed with any of these conditions, a spirometry test can be carried out to determine the current status of the condition or how well is the patient responding to the treatment.

Spirometry in the workplace is is typically done when the worker is hired and yearly there after for as long as the worker stays with that employer to determine if there is any change to the worker's lung function outside the normal changes of aging. If the results of a spirometry test are abnormal, then the worker is referred off to a medical doctor for further testing. A company can also use the aggregate results of all of their workers to see how their safety measures are working to prevent worker exposure to chemicals and/or material, or if more investigation into their safety measures is warranted.

Subscribe to SureNews!

Get your Reasonable Suspicion Checklist! Join our community and get access to more resources like this! Emails are sent monthly, so no need to worry, we will not fill up your inbox.