The relationship between sickness absence caused by chest diseases, smoking habit, and symptoms of chronic bronchitis among the workers of a fertilizer factory in Karaków is examined. The analysis of absence was based on the spells and days of absence registered during a period of six years. The results show that the group of workers with symptoms of chronic bronchitis had many more spells and days of absence caused by chest diseases than persons free from these symptoms. The activity and chronicity of bronchitis symptoms strongly influenced the level of absence, but the role of smoking was not so evident. From the results obtained it appears that analysis of absence can be a valid screening test in the detection of chronic chest diseases, the frequency of which can easily be estimated from absence data.