Pulmonary Function Testing
When an employee is working in a position which potentially exposes them to respiratory hazards, it is important to monitor the employee’s lung function. Respiratory hazards can pose a significant threat to the well being of employees.
The lung function test (also referred to as a Pulmonary Function Test or Spirometry) can help in the early diagnosis of lung disease. Spirometry is a screening test used in occupational health to help determine a workers lung function status.
The Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Code has requirements regarding when employers need to complete pulmonary function testing. It’s required when workers have been exposed to airborne hazards such as asbestos, silica or coal dust. The PFT is a key testing component as asbestos, silica and coal dust have known properties that will damage the lungs and can cause long term serious health issues. A lung function test is most effective if done at the start of employment as a baseline and annually there after for exposed workers.
When there is an abnormal result, the lung function test is sent to a physician for review to determine if further testing is required. Written recommendations from the physician will be given to the employee stating what follow-up will be required.