Lung Function

How Health Surveillance Can Help Respiratory Diseases.

Posted By Kelly Hone on 2018-06-08 13:00

Our lungs are complex and fragile organs and looking after them is key. They are responsible for getting oxygen into our bloodstream and they are composed of millions of air sacs and hundreds of miles of capillaries. We have come to recognise in recent times the problems posed by poor air quality within the workplace, but many people are exposed to potentially dangerous situations in their day to day employment and for these groups regular lung-function testing is vital.

There are many jobs around that pose a significant risk when it comes to air quality, perhaps more than many people think:

- Hazardous substances such as dust and bad toxins can be breathed in by workers on a construction site creating a significant impact on health and wellbeing.
- In agriculture, workers can be subject to toxic gases and dust from crops.
- Engineers and oil and gas workers may be exposed regularly to car fumes.
- The baking industries are at risk from breathing in dust in the form of flour.

- Those working with wood in the forestry industry and occupations such as welding and cleaning have significant challenges and risks when it comes to maintaining good lung health.

Long-term exposure to particles such as dust or toxic fumes can lead to many health problems including occupational respiratory disease or the worsening of a pre-existing condition such as asthma that, if left untreated, could become life-threatening.

Occupational Asthma in The Workplace

Occupational asthma is generally associated with substances that are inhaled during the process of work which causes irritation or an allergic reaction. It happens to people who have never had an episode of asthma before. A  person already with the condition finds their symptoms getting worse because of the kind of task they are undertaking.

Failure to monitor lung function can mean that employees develop conditions which can have long-term, lasting and potentially life-threatening impacts, including:

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: Damage is caused to the lung tubes and air sacs that cause difficulty breathing.
Silicosis: Those who work with stones and rocks can be exposed to respirable crystalline silica which causes hardening and scarring of the lung.
Asbestos: The dangers of asbestos is widely known and many old homes still contain it, all of which can put building and construction workers at risk if they don’t have adequate protection.
Pneumoconiosis: This is a group of lung diseases that is caused by inhaling dust over a prolonged period.

Professional Health Surveillance At HealthScreen

Mandatory Lung Functioning Tests

Spirometry tests are mandatory in many industries where workers are exposed to risks like dust, irritants and harmful chemicals in the workplace. They are recommended for any employee who is working within that environment and they need to be carried out on a regular basis with regular monitoring.

Lung function tests are key and can spot any early damage

Occupational health professionals, like ourselves, will begin by getting a baseline for each individual and then monitor over time with regular tests to ensure there has been no change. Not only is this useful for employees to ensure any problems are caught early, it also helps you as an employer meet your corporate responsibilities to adhere to health and safety regulations, and reduce the potential for employers liability for claims of compensation.

Our professional occupation health service not only allows employers to ensure their staff are fit for work and remain healthy but can also help them put in preventative measures and reduce long-term sickness and absence.

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