Lung Function Testing in Bakery, Chemical, Powder Coating and Spray Shop Environments

Lung Function Testing is important for many reasons and it is mandatory for workplaces that involve exposure to hazardous substances.

We have already blogged about the advantages of Lung Function Testing in our blog post, Lung Function Testing: What You Need To Know.

If you are ready to move onto the specifics in the chemical, baking, powder coating and spray shop environments, read on.

Lung Function Testing in Chemical Environments

Most commonly, workers are exposed to chemicals through breathing such substances into their lungs. Although some chemicals do little more than cause a sufferer discomfort and / or irritation of the nose or throat, others can lead to severe physical damage and lung disease.

LFTs are often used on workers at risk of such inhalation, as they can help to diagnose a growing lung problem, as most lung diseases require many years of exposure to develop. Tests can identify problems early in the course of a disease, before physical examinations by doctors and chest X rays indicate there is an arising health issue.

Symptoms of such issues include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing

Employers whose staff are at risk of inhaling hazardous substances are required to do their best to protect employees from overexposure. If it cannot be prevented due to the line of work staff are required to complete, then personal protective equipment must be provided, there should also be a respiratory protection plan in place, which would include Lung Function Tests.

Lung Function Testing in Bakery Environments

Flour mill, grain workers and bakers are at an increased risk of developing pulmonary symptoms because of their close contact with flour dust.

Flour dust is known to cause occupational asthma amongst bakers and millers and workplace exposure to cereal flour is a well known cause of the most common occupational asthma – bakers’ asthma.

Additionally, flour is an irritant, so although it may not produce long term pulmonary problems, it can cause short term respiratory, nasal and eye problems.

LFTs work to detect any issues with employees who seem to be exposed to such environments and provide hope of early detection and prevention from the symptoms developing into illnesses such as bakers’ asthma.

Lung Function Testing in Powder Coating Environments

Powder coating is a process by which electrostatically charged powder is applied onto an earthed object.

It is often found in the same industries as spray painting and spray shops (see below) i.e. employees exposed to items which are commonly spray painted / powder coated includes:

  • Motor vehicles
  • Buildings
  • Furniture
  • White goods
  • Boats and ships
  • Aircraft
  • Machinery

It is the responsibility of employers, designers, manufacturers and suppliers to ensure that so far as are reasonably practicable, that the plant or substance is without risk to health and safety of employees.

This duty includes detection, prevention and support to employees who are exposed to the risks of powder coating.

Hazards in a workplace which exposes workers to powder coating include:

  • Work environment
  • Plant and equipment used
  • Types, quantities and properties of substances used, and
  • Work tasks and how they are performed.

Lung Function Testing in Spray Shops

Spray painting is used in the aforementioned industries and describes the process by which a liquid coating substance, such as paint, is converted into a mist or aerosol, in order to apply a coating onto an object or surface.

Health and safety in spray shops can be affected by high levels of exposure, via the inhalation of vapours, injection of paint and by skin contact.

Effects can be significant as either a short or long term illness can be the result of overexposure to spray painting. There is also the danger of serious injuries from fire and / or explosion which can occur during the paint spraying process.

Establish the needs of your workplace via:

  • Check for hazards that can cause harm, i.e. solvents, epoxies, resins, spray equipment
  • Decide how serious health and safety risks could be, i.e. decide who is at risk – yourself, employees, customers? What are the contributing factors to such risk, what injuries or impact on health and safety could be the results and what is the likelihood of such risks occurring?
  • Control and eliminate hazards by making changes. Using spray booths, substituting dangerous hazards for safer ones and installing appropriate exhaust ventilation will all reduce such aforementioned risks occurring.

Business Health Partners says…

We understand the importance of lung function tests and are aware of how each industry can be severely impacted by the restrictions of health and safety law as well as ensuring the safety of their employees.

If you’d like to know more about the occupational health services, training and consultancy that we provide, why not call 07720 956789 or if you like what you hear, follow us at @BusinessHealth_.  


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