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April 18, 2011

OSHA, NIOSH Issue Guidance on Respiratory Hazard Tests

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have developed two guidance documents that discuss use of spirometry testing to address worker exposure to respiratory hazards.

Spirometry measures how well a person moves air in and out of the lungs. Workers who inhale some types of dusts, gases or other air contaminants can, over time, experience lung damage. The spirometry test may detect breathing problems or significant changes in a worker's lung function at an early stage.

The OSHA-NIOSH Infosheet for employers clarifies what spirometry is, when it is needed and how employers can evaluate the quality of spirometry services provided to their workers.The companion document, OSHA-NIOSH Worker Info, explains the importance of testing, what to do during the test, and a worker's right to receive an explanation and copy of test results.

OSHA also recommends spirometry testing for workers exposed to diacetyl and diacetyl substitutes and has issued similar information on that topic.

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