Exposing the workplace to alcohol or illegal substances can adversely impact its employees’ health and safety. Substance impairment has put many workplaces on alert due to increased risks of accidents or injuries. Therefore, many companies adopt workplace policies to prevent alcohol and drug use. The workplace policy includes employee testing as part of overall health and safety procedures. A workplace test involves taking a sample from either the breath, urine, or blood to detect impairing substances in the system. However, many people consider these tests an invasion of privacy. Thus, many people ask, can an employer require a blood test?
Can an employer require a blood test is a very relevant question? Drug and alcohol tests are crucial for workplaces to manage occupational hazards. They help identify impaired employees that can compromise their well-being and others at work. Therefore, an employer can require a blood test if it is within the reasonable grounds of safety. A workplace policy guides when and how workplace tests are conducted. For instance, drug and alcohol screening is mandatory in high-risk industries to prevent massive damage to properties, lives, and communities. In particular, they have zero-alcohol tolerance policies that prohibit alcohol or substance use in the workplace. Employers nowadays would conduct alcohol screenings through breathalysers more frequently instead of blood tests. This is because breath tests are easier and quicker to perform. A workplace breathalyser from Breathalysers Australia is a portable device that can measure the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) through the breath.
Can an employer require a blood test: Reasons for testing
A blood test is considered the most invasive testing method of all. A licensed professional takes a blood sample from a vein in the arm using a small needle. It can accurately detect ethanol and other substances such as common drugs like cocaine, amphetamines, marijuana, and opiates. However, a blood test can be time-consuming and costly. So, when can an employer require a blood test? Various instances enable an employer to administer a blood test like:
- Pre-employment – An employer may require a blood test as part of the application process. The test aims to determine if a job applicant misuse drugs and alcohol.
- Post-incident – A blood test after an accident is crucial to know if alcohol or drugs contributed to the casualty.
- Random or Scheduled – A blood test may be carried out as part of the company policy to ensure safety.
- Reasonable suspicion – If an employee shows symptoms of high-level impairment that may potentially endanger others at work.
Can an employer require a blood test: Legal matters
The question is – can an employer require a blood test legally? Alcohol or drug blood tests in the workplace can be a sensitive issue. Although workplace testing is not mandatory in all businesses, they are essential for safety-regulated industries. Mining, transportation, construction, and manufacturing sectors conduct regular testing to manage hazards. Moreover, a workplace program enables employers to conduct alcohol and drug test safely and legally. A workplace policy is a written document tailored to the company’s needs. Employers collaborate with workers to develop a comprehensive program, serving the best interest of all parties. Most importantly, employers must get the employees’ consent before they can test. Employers must also observe fair judgment and confidentiality of the results.
When can an employer require a blood test? The workplace policy states when an alcohol or drug test can take place. For pre-employment, employers inform applicants that a blood test is part of the application process. Thus, getting a job offer depends on passing the test. If you fail the test, you may be ineligible for the position. Once onboard, you may also be subject to more tests during your entire employment. For instance, drug and alcohol tests may be included in your employment terms or agreement. If you sign the agreement or give your consent, the employer has the right to conduct workplace testing on reasonable grounds. Refusal to give a sample test after giving your written consent may be grounds for disciplinary actions or dismissal.
Blood Test vs Breath Test
Can an employer require a blood test for alcohol? Alcohol is a depressant with impairing effects on the senses and motor functions within minutes from intake. Excessive consumption affects the abilities to function normally, especially in vision, speech, reaction time, balance, and coordination. Moreover, alcohol ends up in different body parts through the bloodstream. Alcohol can stay in the system for specific periods, depending on the intake. A breathalyser can detect alcohol for 12 to 24 hours from the last consumption. The BACtrack professional devices from Breathalysers Australia utilise powerful fuel cell sensors to measure the BAC level accurately. A breath test through a breathalyser is a non-invasive method to detect alcohol. Furthermore, no other processes are needed once the breath sample is within the breathalyser. On the other hand, blood samples must be processed within an accredited laboratory. Therefore, breath tests are more cost-efficient than blood tests.
Blood and Other Test Services
How can an employer require a blood test on-site and when is it appropriate? Most companies use a blood test when confirming positive results from initial screening. For instance, a breath test for alcohol and urine analysis for drugs are the standard procedures for workplace testing. The employer avails the services of a laboratory to facilitate on-site testing. Most testing centres provide mobile services so employees can perform the test without leaving the worksite. If the results yield positive, a follow-up test through a blood sample is essential. A blood test undergoes a laboratory examination and is reviewed by a medical officer to validate the final results. Likewise, testing centres follow strict procedures and Australian standards to ensure accurate and reliable tests. Testing centres may provide the following services:
- Complete laboratory examination for walk-in individuals
- Workplace/On-site testing services for drugs and alcohol
- 24/7 testing – for sudden emergencies or accidents
- Policy development
- Educational courses and training
Can an employer require a blood test: Devices Used
Can an employer require a blood test persistently? Due to its cost, time element and invasive nature, most companies only use a blood test when necessary. A blood test is suitable as a confirmatory test or after accidents. For regular screening, you may use a workplace breathalyser to monitor the employees’ alcohol levels. The BACtrack devices from Breathalysers Australia have effective breath capture systems and can process the sample within 10 to 15 seconds. Moreover, the BACtrack breathalysers have one-button operations, allowing you to conduct a breath test easily. The fuel cell breathalysers are specific to ethanol and do not react with other substances. This feature ensures employers that these devices are less likely to provide false-positive results. You can choose from a wide selection of highly accurate workplace alcohol testers at Breathalysers Australia online.