M.C. Townsend Associates, LLC

Phone: 412-343-9946  Fax: 412-343-9947  Email: mct@mctownsend.com

NIOSH-Approved Spirometry Refresher


Recommendations/ Requirements for NIOSH-approved Spirometry Certification

Since 2013, OSHA has recommended that all spirometry technicians complete a NIOSH-approved course before conducting tests in the occupational setting. This best practice recommendation is in addition to OSHA-mandated training for technicians testing workers in compliance with certain exposure-specific standards. See OSHA's Guidance on Spirometry Testing in Occupational Health Programs: Best Practices for Healthcare Professionals for details.

Certificates of successful completion of a NIOSH-approved spirometry course remain active for 5 years from the course date. Certification can be extended in 5 year increments by completing a NIOSH Approved Spirometry Refresher course before the current certificate expires. NIOSH also instituted a 7 month grace period to give technicians ample time to renew their NIOSH course certificates. E.g., if a current course certificate was dated April 1, 2008, the technician would have up to 5 years and 7 months to complete a NIOSH-Approved Spirometry Refresher Course, i.e., until November 1, 2013.

To register for the Refresher Course, students must provide a copy of their most recent NIOSH-Approved Spirometry Course certificate to establish eligibility for the Refresher course.

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Course Description

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the American College of Environmental and Occupational Medicine (ACOEM), the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN), and the American Thoracic Society (ATS) all recommend periodic training that reviews spirometry technique and updates technicians on changes in the field of pulmonary function testing and pertinent regulations. This NIOSH-Approved Refresher Course is designed to provide that review for health professionals who conduct and/or interpret spirometry tests in industrial and clinical settings.

The course briefly reviews the pathophysiology of obstructive and restrictive impairments and emphasizes correct performance of spirometry and the effects of technical errors and spirometer malfunctions on test results and interpretations of repsiratory impairment. Students practice recognizing testing errors, using problem graphs from quality control samples. The goal of the course is not only to review what the recommendations and requirements are for conducting tests and interpreting results, but also why the recommendations and requirements were made.

In the classes, Dr. Townsend draws on her extensive experience and in-depth knowledge of various spirometers, acquired through on-going consulting with a variety of clients. As she helps clients solve their spirometry problems and identify optimal spirometer configurations, Dr. Townsend obtains new information to share with her students, enabling them to work more effectively with their own equipment and to optimize their spirometry testing skills.

OSHA's standards and the 2013 Guidance on Spirometry Testing in Occupational Health Programs: Best Practices for Healthcare Professionals, the 2005 ATS/ERS Spirometry Official Statements, and the ACOEM Statement on Spirometry in the Occupational Health Setting - 2011 Update are reviewed. Current recommendations are presented for spirometer calibration checks and for interpretation of results as normal or indicating obstructive or restrictive impairment.

NIOSH recommends that each student submit a sample of graphs to be critiqued for technical quality prior to the course.

Class size is limited to maximize student-faculty interaction and to keep the atmosphere informal and conducive to learning. Topics are varied to keep students interested and involved. Breaks are frequent to help students concentrate and remain focussed.

All lectures are given by Dr. Mary Townsend; all practice session assistants are experienced in spirometry.

A certificate extending NIOSH certification by 5 years is awarded upon completion of the course.

Course Topics

  • Spirometry technique and testing errors following OSHA 2013 Best Practices and ATS/ERS 2005 Spirometry Update.
  • Interpreting results as obstructive, restrictive, or mixed impairment patterns, using OSHA Best Practices and ATS/ERS Interpretation Guidelines.
  • Review OSHA's standards and 2013 Guidance on Best Practices for occupational spirometry testing.
  • Review spirogram measurements, and effects of ambient temperature.
  • Evaluate test validity using real-life problem graphs from quality control samples.
  • Types of spirometers: advantages, disadvantages, and potential problems.
  • Spirometer calibration and calibration checks.

Continuing Education

This NIOSH-Approved Spirometry Refresher Course has been reviewed and is acceptable for up to 7.50 AMA Physicians Recognition Award Category 1 Credits.*

This continuing nursing education activity was approved by the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN), an accredited approver by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation, for 7.5 contact hours.

* DuBois Regional Medical Center is accredited by the Pennsylvania Medical Society to sponsor continuing medical education for physicians. DuBois Regional Medical Center designates this a continuing medical education activity and it awards 7.50 AMA Physicians Recognition Award Category 1 Credits and the Pennsylvania Medical Society Member CME Certification. Each physician should claim only those hours of credit that he/she actually spent in the educational activity. Faculty participants in continuing medical education activities sponsored byDuBois Regional Medical Center are expected to disclose to the audience whether they do or do not have any real or apparent conflicts of interest or other relationships related to the content of their presentations.

Course Materials

For the spirogram critique, please submit 5 test results, with tracings, prior to the class.

Dates & Course Location

Baltimore Course Location

Taught collaboratively with Johns Hopkins University, this class is held at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in Baltimore, MD.
  • Directions: http://www.jhsph.edu/resources/directions.html

  • A block of guest rooms will be held at Home2Suites by Hilton, 8 E. Pleasant Street, Basltimore, MD 21202. Telephone (410) 576-1200. "Townsend Associates" block room rate is $129/night plus tax, parking rate is $16/day. Shuttle service to the JHU School of Nursing will be provided. Other hotels convenient to the school are listed HERE. Some other hotels also offer a Johns Hopkins room rate and shuttle service to the hospital.

Baltimore 2015 Dates

March 9, 2015

Fall date to be determined


Pittsburgh Course Location

Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites, Pittsburgh - Airport
5311 Campbells Run Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15205

"Spirometry/audiometry" room block rate is $104/night. For room reservations, call 412-788-8400.

Pittsburgh 2015 Date

Spring date to be determined.


Fond du Lac, WI Course Location

Taught collaboratively with Aurora Occupational Health, this class is held at:

Aurora Health Center
210 Wisconsin American Drive
Fond du Lac, WI 54937

  • A block of guest rooms is reserved at Country Inn and Suites, 121 Merwin Way, Fond du Lac, WI 54937, Phone number: (920) 924-8800.

  • A reduced Aurora Health Care room rate of $74/night plus tax is available up to 30 days before the class date.
  • Fond du Lac 2015 Date

    June 16, 2015

    Columbus, OH Course Location

    Taught collaboratively with Ohio Association of Occupational Health Nurses Conference, this class is held at:

    East Wing Community Center (in the Delaware County Board of Developmental Disabilities facility)
    151 East Orange Road
    Lewis Center, OH 43035

  • A block of guest rooms will be reserved at Cambria Suites Columbus/Polaris, 9100 Lyra Dr., Columbus, OH 43240, Phone number: (614) 841-9100.

  • A reduced "OAOHN Fall Conference" room rate of $109/night plus tax will be available.
  • Columbus 2015 Date

    Fall, 2015 date to be determined.

    Registration Information

    Course tuition of $335 includes:
    • All course materials, including comprehensive course workbook and reference materials.
    • OSHA's 2013 Spirometry Testing in Occupational Health Programs: Best Practices for Healthcare Professionals.
    • ACOEM's Statement on Spirometry in the Occupational Health Setting - 2011 Update.
    • Continuing education credit.
    • Refreshments (and lunch in Pittsburgh only).
    • Critique of 5 spirograms for technical quality (optional, at no extra charge).
    For the spirogram critique, please submit 5 test results, with tracings, prior to the class.

    Class size is limited, so please register early to assure availability. You may pay by check or using VISA, MasterCard, or American Express credit cards. Students are enrolled in the order in which payment and registration are received. Confirmation will be sent upon receipt of the tuition payment. Tuition is fully refunded if you cancel five or more weeks before the course date. A $30 service charge is deducted if you cancel 3-5 weeks before the course date. Since expenses are fixed, no refunds are issued if you cancel less than 3 weeks before the course date. However, you may always send an alternate in your place or, if we find a replacement for your registered class date, you may transfer to a later course.

    Customized on-site courses are also available, and a minimum number of participants is usually recommended. Please call for more information: (412) 343-9946.

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