Spirometry (lung function tests), a new service and why you might need it

Outsource Safety Ltd BlogSafety newsSpirometry (lung function tests), a new service and why you might need it
June 27, 2018 Posted by Roger Hart

It won’t be news to any of our existing clients to say that occupational health surveillance is key in managing risk to your business.  We’ve long been involved in the monitoring and risk assessment of hazardous substances in the workplace and we’ve also been supporting our clients by recommending spirometry (lung function tests) for staff who are exposed to these risks.

What has changed over the past few years is the cost of carrying these tests out, and that change has been positive, we can now carry out spirometry as part of our normal visits to site whether that’s performing exposure monitoring, a site visit or an audit.

Key benefits of spirometry (lung function tests)

  1. The first benefit is that we can integrate this into our other work, meaning you don’t have to meet an expensive day rate cost for an occupational health specialist (often several hundred pounds which makes a small number of tests unviable;
  2. Spirometry and other health surveillance can often be required by law, under the COSHH Regulations (Regulation 11);
  3. Health surveillance is a key area which is reviewed by HSE Inspectors and is a major source of material breaches referenced under the Fee for Intervention Scheme (over £30m in fines last year);
  4. Good health surveillance has a real benefit to workers health and educates them about the risks present in the workplace when combined with good safety management;
  5. Health surveillance, when done properly can provide great protection from claims, and health claims are soaring;
  6. Health surveillance can also protect you from historic claims from a time before you even considered having these tests completed;
    1. Imagine a claim arriving and you were able to demonstrate to your insurers that other staff still with you had not suffered any ill health –  that would provide key evidence that the claimants suffering was probably caused elsewhere and by another employer.

What substance exposures might require Spirometry? (lung function tests)

The list below is helpful but not exhaustive.  One thing we’ve learned over the past 20 years is that there are an awful lot of people doing a whole range of tasks and so it’s hard to be specific.  If you’ve got a person who is exposed to a small amount of a substance but they’ve got other health aspects which mean their respiratory health may be compromised it might be worth including them.  It’s also, for the small cost, worth thinking of screening each working in their first 3 months of work, particularly if they are going to be exposed to any of the following substances;

  • Colophony fumes (exposure to solder fume)
  • Gluteraldehydes;
  • Grain dust and flax;
  • Hardwood and other dust exposure;
  • Isocyanate paint sprays;
  • Metal plating processes;
  • Organic dusts;
  • Polyurethane resins;
  • Reactive dyes;
  • Silica dust (respirable crystalline silica RCS);
  • Welding fumes.

Once you’ve carried out the first test how often should you repeat them?

Again, generally speaking, and using the guidance from HSE present here; Source: http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/healthrisks/hsrespiratory.htm

  • Three months into employment (questionnaire and spirometry).
  • Every six months for the first two years of employment with an annual review thereafter if no problems are identified (questionnaire and spirometry).

 Great – how do I get this started?

Please contact us to find out more and integrate this service into your existing support package.  If you’re a new customer we can provide this as a one-off service and provide a quote for spirometry, please call 01453 800100 or email us, or we’ll call you back