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Fitness for duty evaluations in hazardous materials firefighters.
Kales SN; Aldrich JM; Polyhronopoulos GN; Artzerounian D; Gassert T; Hu H; Kelsey K; Sweet C; Christiani DC
J Occup Environ Med 1998 Oct; 40(10):925-931
We analyzed results from the medical examinations of 340 hazardous materials firefighters and applied various objective standards in simulated fitness for duty determinations. Ten percent had elevated blood pressures, 13% had far visual acuity worse than 20/30 in one or both eyes, and 38% had abnormal audiometry. The strictest standards for resting blood pressure and corrected visual acuity would have failed 2% and 1% of the cohort, respectively. For audiometry, 0%-5% of the cohort would have failed, depending on the hearing requirements set. The strictest hearing standard did not allow for corrective devices so that few failures would be reversible. Visual and audiometric testing and measurement of resting blood pressure all have significant clinical yields. Studies of simulated firefighting are needed to establish minimum hearing requirements and determine whether corrective devices can be worn safely during duty.
Hazardous materials; Hazards; Health hazards; Fire fighters; Fire fighting; Blood pressure; Vision disorders; Audiometry; Hearing disorders; Hearing impairment; Hearing loss; Simulation methods; Occupational health; Protective equipment; Protective clothing
Stefanos N. Kales, MD, MPH, Occupational Medicine, Department of Medicine, The Cambridge Hospital, 1493 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02139
Issue of Publication
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Occupational Medicine, Cambridge Hospital, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Page last reviewed: March 3, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division