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Spirometry and your business

Spirometry allows you to monitor the lung function of your employees to ensure their health is not impacted by their work environment.

When should I monitor the lung health of my employees?

If your employees are exposed to hazardous air contaminants such as silica dust, organic solvents, welding fumes, wood dust, carbon monoxide and agrichemicals, you are required to carry out Health Monitoring as defined by the Health and Safety at Work (General Risk and Workplace Management) Regulations 2016.

You will also be required to carry out exposure monitoring to assess the air quality where your employees work and where necessary to provide protective equipment or clothing to protect your employees from airborne hazards. You can find more information on the WorkSafe New Zealand website.

When and how to test lung function

Spirometry testing – along with exposure monitoring – allows you to be sure that your employee’s working environment is not negatively impacting their lung function.

If you identify that your business should be monitoring lung function, WorkAble can perform preliminary tests to assess the current lung health of your employees. Spirometry tests are quick and easy to deliver. WorkAble can perform all health monitoring on site so you can enjoy minimal disruption to the working day.

Once you’ve carried out initial testing, WorkAble will schedule a programme of ongoing testing to allow you to track and measure the health of your employee’s lungs.

WorkAble offer health monitoring and spirometry testing services across Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne and the Bay of Plenty.

How does Spirometry work?

Spirometry is a lung function test that measures the air flow in and out of the lungs. It’s an effective way of identifying the impact of lung conditions such as asthma, restrictive lung disease or disorders affecting lung function.

Using Spirometry in the workplace allows employers to monitor the health of their employee’s lungs. Ongoing testing ensures that lung health does not deteriorate over a period of time. In combination with hazard monitoring and protective measures, lung function testing is an effective way to track your employee’s lung health.

Spirometry tests are usually carried out once a year. There’s no special preparation required before the Spirometry test is carried out, but it is recommended that employees:

  • Don’t smoke for 60 minutes before the test
  • Avoid alcohol on the same day
  • Avoid eating a really large meal before the test as this can restrict lung function
  • Don’t wear restrictive clothing.

Normal results vary from person to person and are calculated using a combination of age/height/race/and gender. A normal result is considered to be a result that is 80% or more of the predicted result based on these factors.

Spirometry testing – the details

Spirometry testing consists of an FVC measure and FEV1 measure. An FEV1/FVC ratio is then calculated which combines the two.

FVC testing
FVC testing measures the ‘expiratory forced vital capacity’ of the lungs.

Your occupational health practitioner/registered nurse will measure the total amount of air you can forcefully breathe out after breathing in as deeply as possible.

FEV1 testing
FEV1 measures the amount of air your can breathe out in 1 second – the ‘forced expiratory volume’.

Your occupational health practitioner/registered nurse will measure the amount of air you can exhale into a spirometer machine in 1 second.

The FEV1/FVC ratio
Combining the FVC and FEV1 Spirometry tests allows your occupational health practitioner/registered nurse to create a ratio that accurately reflects the health of your lungs.

Health Monitoring with WorkAble

WorkAble offers complete occupational health and health monitoring services to businesses located across the Bay of Plenty, Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay.

We work in partnership with your business; allowing you to monitor the health of your team discreetly, cost effectively, and with minimal disruption of day-to-day operations.

Contact WorkAble today to find out more about the ways that we can tailor our support to your business needs.