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Respiratory protective devices: rates of medical clearance and causes for work restrictions.
Pappas-GP; Takaro-TK; Stover-B; Beaudet-N; Salazar-M; Calcagni-J; Shoop-D; Barnhart-S
Am J Ind Med 1999 Apr; 35(4):390-394
BACKGROUND: There are no published data on the outcomes and benefits of medical evaluations for the use of respiratory protective devices. We, therefore, conducted a retrospective database and chart review to assess the rates of medical clearance and causes for work restrictions at a Department of Energy complex. METHODS: All workers with work restrictions or denied clearance over a one-year period were identified and their medical records abstracted. RESULTS: Of the 5,569 workers who received medical evaluation, only 71 (1.3%) received limitations on respirator use documented in their medical record. Of the 65 workers with sufficient medical records for additional analysis, 9 of the 5,569 workers (0.2%) were denied medical clearance, while 56 workers (1.1%) received work restrictions. Pregnancy was the most common cause for denying medical clearance for respirator use. Lung disease, cardiovascular disease, and claustrophobia were the most common causes for work restrictions. Physical examination and spirometry added little to the detection of relevant medical conditions. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that few workers fail medical clearance for respirator use or receive work restrictions. Data on adverse events from respirator use are needed to help design appropriate medical evaluations and uniform criteria for work restrictions or denial of medical clearance.
Respiratory-protection; Physical-examination; Physiological-response; Respiratory-equipment; Medical-examinations; Medical-screening; Lung-disorders; Cardiovascular-system-disorders; Heart; Author Keywords: occupational medicine; respiratory protective devices; medical surveillance
Timothy K. Takaro, University of Washington, Occupational & Environmental Medicine Program, 4225 Roosevelt Way NE Suite 100, Seattle, WA 98105
Issue of Publication
American Journal of Industrial Medicine
University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division