Using chemicals or other hazardous substances at work can put people’s health at risk. So the law requires employers to control exposure to hazardous substances to prevent ill health. 

Spirometry is sometimes referred to as Respiratory Lung Function Surveillance which is carried out to comply with Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations, 2002 (COSHH). 

Respiratory illnesses commonly cause sickness absence, unemployment, visits to the GP, disability and handicap. Collectively these disorders cause the loss of 38 million days per year. 

Spirometry assesses the lung’s capability in exchanging gases and can detect early signs of lung damage such as occupational asthma or other respiratory diseases. 

Employers have a duty to complete Risk Assessments to identify any hazardous or potentially hazardous substance that an employee may inhale whilst at work. Once a hazard has been identified, control measures need to be put in place in order to prevent ill health. 

Health surveillance involves collecting and using information about workers’ health relating to the substances they work with. This helps to prevent respiratory diseases from developing by detecting early symptoms. 

Spirometry health surveillance takes approximately 15 minutes and includes: 

  • A confidential questionnaire 
  • Spirometry (Lung Function) test 
  • Counselling 
  • Referral to a specialist medical consultant if necessary 
  • report for managers which will satisfy HSE requirements 

Hazards requiring Spirometry surveillance: 

  • Animals and insects in laboratories 
  • Azodicarbonamides 
  • Caster bean dust 
  • Certain dyes 
  • Certain hardening agents 
  • Grain/ flour dust and flax 
  • Hardwood dusts 
  • Isocyanate paint sprays 
  • Manufacture of antibiotics, cimetadine, ispaghula powder, ipecacuanha 
  • Metal plating processes 
  • Organic dusts 
  • Platinum salts 
  • Polyurethane resins 
  • Proteolytic enzymes 
  • Welding fumes 


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