Alcohol and drug misuse presents various health risks and safety hazards to society. For example, substance impairment is one of the leading factors of road crashes and workplace accidents. Thus, dealing with drug and alcohol-related incidents is a major challenge for law enforcement and employers. Particularly, employers must ensure the safety and welfare of the employees at work. Likewise, employees share the responsibility of keeping the workplace hazard-free by abiding to company policies and safety measures. Therefore, one of the effective strategies companies implement is alcohol and drug test detection. An alcohol and drug test detection procedure can identify substance use that can potentially harms the workplace, co-workers, and the public.
Guide to Alcohol Drug Test Detection in the Workplace
Since employees spend the most time at work, the workplace is one of the susceptible areas for alcohol-related accidents. Unfortunately, if there are no regulations about alcohol use, accidents will continue to persist. Many companies incorporate alcohol and drug test detection to manage preventable risks brought by harmful use of impairing substances. However, establishing workplace testing needs careful planning to avoid legal issues. A workplace policy enables employers to effectively administer alcohol and drug testing to manage risks. A workplace policy should include:
- Work rules
- Reasons for testing
- Collection and testing procedures
- Employee Assistance
Alcohol Drug Test Detection: Procedures
Alcohol and drug test detection is the process of examining the specimen samples to determine use or exposure to specific substances. The standard procedure of alcohol screening is through a breath test. A breathalyser device from Breathalysers Australia can processes the breath sample through sensors to estimate the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). In particular, the BAC is the amount of alcohol in the blood and directly indicates the level of intoxication or impairment. For example, the more you consume alcohol, the higher your BAC is. In Australia, the legal limit for alcohol is 0.05% BAC or 0.05g of alcohol for every 100ml of blood. It is at the BAC level that police officers check in roadside inspections. Therefore, if your BAC is 0.05% or higher while driving, you are subject to criminal charges and penalties.
Meanwhile, high-risk industries like mining, construction, transportation, and manufacturing implement a zero-tolerance to alcohol and drugs. There should be zero alcohol or substances that impair the senses and abilities to perform tasks safely. In comparison, a breath test detects alcohol (ethanol), a drug test screens for illicit substances and the improper use of prescription medicines. The alcohol and drug test detection identifies the use of prohibited substances that an employee may take any time. In particular, a drug test detects commonly used drugs like THC/cannabis, amphetamines, cocaine, benzodiazepines, opioids, and barbiturates. However, the employer may request the laboratory to test for additional substances based on their needs.
How long does Alcohol Stay in the System?
There are various alcohol and drug test detection procedures available. The standard screening methods are mainly breath, urine, saliva, and blood. Alcohol can stay in the system for 24 hours, depending on the amount ingested. The body absorbs alcohol rapidly but burns off at a fixed rate per hour. Therefore, the more you consume alcohol, the longer it takes for the body to metabolise it completely. The various alcohol test methods and their detection window are:
- Blood: Up to 6 hours
- Breath: 12-24 hours
- Urine: 12-24 hours; 72 hours for advanced tests
- Saliva: 12-24 hours
- Hair: 90 days
The breath test is a cost-efficient method to detect alcohol use. Meanwhile, urine or mouth swab test efficiently screens drug use. If the initial alcohol and drug test detection show positive results, a follow-up test through a GC/MS scan can confirm the actual amount of substances in the system. A GC/MS test is the gold standard for alcohol and drug test detection.
Reasons for Workplace Tests
The employer can administer alcohol and drug test detection under specific circumstances. Specifically, it must be congruent to the workplace policies to ensure appropriate risk management efforts. The policies outline the occasions for conducting alcohol and drug testing, such as:
- Pre-employment: To avoid hiring individuals who abuse drugs or alcohol that may cause harm to the workplace and co-workers. It is common in the application process for safety-sensitive occupations.
- Post-incident or near-miss: Test if drugs or alcohol use leads to an accident or injuries.
- Random: Unannounced test to a random group of employees to identify substance impairment at work.
- Reasonable suspicion: An employer has a substantial reason to believe that an individual is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Return to duty: Any employee who previously tested positive or has undergone and completed treatment or rehabilitation.
Benefits of Alcohol and Drug Test Detection
Alcohol and substance-related accidents can cost companies millions of dollars in hospital and accident compensation expenses. Therefore, applying alcohol and drug test detection in the workplace is a practical method to minimise safety risks. Moreover, it helps deter alcohol and substance use, keeping the workplace hazard-free. As a result, companies with prevention programs report a significant reduction in workplace injuries, casualties, liabilities, and overall costs. Additionally, a safe workplace can lead to improved productivity, lesser downtime and absenteeism, and an increase in employee morale. Lastly, it can refer employees with substance use disorder to a treatment facility for recovery.
Aside from alcohol and drug test detection, employers must also train their staff to recognise substance use impairments. Early detection can help prevent untoward incidents from happening. In particular, accredited testing centres can offer awareness programs for reducing substance use in the workplace. For example, the symptoms of substance abuse are – enlarged or small pupils, sudden weight loss or gain, bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, unusual body odours, and poor coordination and balance.
BACtrack breathalyser: Ensuring Safe Workspace
Certified laboratories perform alcohol and drug test detection to help employers maintain a safe and healthy environment. On-site testing is efficient to collect samples without disrupting normal operations. Alternatively, employers can use a workplace breathalyser to monitor employees’ alcohol levels. A workplace breathalyser like BACtrack from Breathalysers Australia utilises an enlarged fuel cell sensor for accurate BAC readings. The platinum fuel cell sensors oxidise alcohol in the breath sample to measure the precise BAC. They are also specific to alcohol detection and do not react with other substances. For example, they do not interfere with the BAC results of people with diabetes with high acetone levels.
The BACtrack breathalysers have an efficient one-touch operations, letting you operate the device quickly, easily, and efficiently. Additionally, the fuel cell breathalysers can maintain their accuracy and consistency for longer periods. Therefore, they are suitable devices for alcohol and drug test detection in the workplace. BACtrack devices uses the same technology police officers use during roadside screenings. You can view the comprehensive selection of alcohol testers at Breathalysers Australia and see what device fits your workplace needs.