Pulmonary Function Tests (PFTs)

Pulmonary function tests consist of a wide range of tests designed to measure the capacity of your lungs to breathe in and exhale air. As a tool to determine the ability of a worker to wear respirators while performing parts of their job, PFT’s are sometimes required. They measure how efficiently your lungs can transfer oxygen to the bloodstream. To measure your lungs’ ability to exhale, our medical practitioners use a spirometer. The use of spirometers, or spirometry, works by measuring the volume of the lungs. The information gathered from spirometry is useful in diagnosing certain types of lung disorders, specifically obstructive lung diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Related Information:

Measuring lung volume helps detect restrictive lung diseases in which a person cannot inhale a normal volume of air. These diseases are caused by a number of factors, most commonly inflammation or scarring of the lung tissue (interstitial lung disease) or by abnormalities the individual’s chest cavity. Finally, diffusion capacity (DLCO) tests provide a fairly accurate estimate of how efficiently oxygen is being transferred from the air to the bloodstream by the lungs.

Conducting the Pulmonary Function Tests (PFTs)

A spirometry test is a relatively simple procedure. The spirometer is connected to an individual mouthpiece with a filter, which the person breathes into. The spirometer then records the rate and amount of air that is being inhaled and exhaled over a specific amount of time. These measurements are recorded by medical professionals.


In order to prepare for a spirometry test, the patient should avoid eating a heavy meal prior to the test and should  avoid smoking for at least 4-6 hours beforehand. If the patient is taking medications, or medication dispersion devices like an inhaler, specific instructions for conducting the test will be provided by the doctor.

Work Simulation

To learn more about post-offer work simulation in Minnesota, call MN Occupational Health at 651-968-5300.

Evaluating the suitability of candidates for a particular job involves evaluating their attributes and abilities such as his or her education level, skill set and experience. Work simulation involves assessing whether a candidate’s physical abilities are suitable for the essential physical demands of a job.

Many similar jobs have different physical requirements that may vary from workplace to workplace or industry to industry so a Job Task Analysis will identify those variations between different employers or facilities for similar jobs. For example, a job may require an employee to be able to lift a certain amount of weight from one height to another or to climb ladders or steps, etc.. That is why, instead of relying on pre-set general requirements it is important to perform a thorough Job Task Analysis (JTA) in order to determine the essential functional requirements for the job with the tools and infrastructure they will be using on a regular basis.

Documenting and testing process

After the essential functional requirements of the job have been determined, they will be added to the job description and used for preliminary applicant post-offer employment screening. All applicants should be instructed to declare in writing if they are able to meet these functional requirements and that they will be evaluated for their ability to meet the particular physical demands for the job with our without accommodations.

Ensuring an impartial and discrimination-free evaluation process

To ensure a fair evaluation process, the human performance evaluations for an applicant must be conducted either after making an offer of employment.

Job Task Analysis

What is a job task analysis?

A job task analysis (JTA) results in a detailed analysis and description of the essential physical requirements to perform a job. The primary goal of a JTA is to establish the job requirements in terms of activity, task duration, environmental factors, tools, machinery, etc.

What is the purpose of a job task analysis?

Minnesota employers study what tasks the employee can or cannot accomplish so:

  • Organizations can choose to not employ someone who cannot perform certain elements or all of the necessary tasks or;
  • May decide to hire a worker when reasonable accomodations can be made.

A job task analysis can expedite the return-to-work process be pre-defining the essential physical demands of the job.

If a JTA has not been drawn up on every employee, the company doctor may have trouble signing workers up for exhaustive work duty, particularly if the worker has recently recovered from an injury. When this happens, the workers may experience a challenges returning to work and tasks would consequently end up uncompleted. If both management and the doctor have a JTA, however, they will have an easier time liaising with the injured worker and preparing a formula for getting back to work.

Employ professionals to develop a job task analysis

Do not wait any longer to have a JTA set up for your workplace. When you have a good system for responding to work-related injuries, you can reduce time spent off work and boost productivity. Minnesota businesses need solutions to reduce the human and economic cost of injury.