Safety should always be a top priority in any workplace; One of the primary causes of workplace accidents is due to employees being under the effects of drugs or alcohol. Also, under Australian Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws, companies are legally responsible for providing all employees with a safe and healthy working environment. Thus, Australian businesses conduct workplace drug and alcohol testing. Drug and alcohol tests are programs designed to monitor the employees’ well-being against possible drug and alcohol use. The program aims to detect alcohol or substance use to maintain a productive and hazard-free workplace. Although it is not mandatory to conduct drug and alcohol tests, specific industries should prioritise eliminating work hazards. Some high-risk workplaces have a zero-alcohol tolerance policy to ensure the safety of all workers.
Because of substance-related accidents in the workplace, many companies need to perform drug and alcohol tests to improve their safety precautions. However, before a workplace can test its employees for drugs and alcohol, there must be a clear testing policy set first and foremost. The guidelines for the policy should be understood and agreed upon by employees upon employment. Moreover, proper equipment to efficiently conduct the testing procedures is a must-have. Breathalysers are portable devices that measure a person’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) through an exhaled breath. Breathalysers Australia has a wide range of BACtrack police-grade workplace breathalysers ideal for workplace alcohol testing. Furthermore, employees can benefit from owning a BACtrack personal breathalyser, also offered by Breathalysers Australia.
Adverse Effects of Drugs and Alcohol in the Workplace
Drug and alcohol tests are precautionary and confirmatory methods that employers use for workplace health and safety. This program is necessary due to the many negative effects of illicit substances and alcohol on workplace safety. Likewise, employee drug and alcohol use and abuse can have many adverse effects on workplace productivity and employee morale.
Illicit substances affect the brain’s neurotransmitters. Thus, it interferes with the neural messages that the brain transmits all throughout the body. This means that employees in this state can cause detrimental errors while working. Moreover, most drugs have highly addictive properties. Alternatively, alcohol, though legal, is heavily regulated. It is because alcohol impairment can cause adverse effects on judgment, perception, coordination, reaction time and motor functions, all of which are vital in the workplace to maintain safety and productivity. The effects of drugs and alcohol are definitely undesirable for any workplace. Hence, it is why drug and alcohol tests are essential to deter workers from using and abusing illicit substances and alcohol.
How Long Do Drugs and Alcohol Stay in the System?
The time frame for drugs and alcohol to affect one’s body varies greatly and can be from many different factors. However, the effects of illicit substances and alcohol can endanger individuals regardless of their intake. Moreover, some substances can remain in the body for longer periods. For example, the effects of drugs like cocaine can last 15 to 30 minutes, but it remains in the body in trace amounts for much longer. Likewise, it can take a normal adult person up to 7 hours or more to metabolise alcohol completely. Moreover, an alcohol breath test can detect the BAC on a person’s breath sample for up to 24 hours. Thus, drug and alcohol test methods can vary depending on the detection window for when the illicit substance or alcohol stays in the body.
Factors that can affect a drug and alcohol test in terms of how long the trace amounts of substances can remain in the body are:
- amount of drugs or alcohol consumed
- usage frequency
- food and water intake
- hydration levels
- medical conditions or medications
- metabolism rate
- physical fitness (weight, body type and body fat distribution)
- the type of illicit substance or the alcohol content of the drink
Who Can Benefit Most from Conducting Drug and Alcohol Tests in the Workplace?
Conducting drug and alcohol tests is highly beneficial for any company or business that takes workplace health and safety seriously. However, industries with higher workplace risks, such as the mining, aviation construction, manufacturing, logistics and transportation sectors, will benefit most from conducting workplace drug and alcohol tests. It is due to those safety-critical sectors having a zero-tolerance policy for drug and alcohol use and abuse while employed. Employees impaired by illicit substances or intoxicated by alcohol pose significant safety issues, especially in the industries stated above. For example, drivers from the logistics or transportation sector would need to be entirely sober to avoid any roadside accidents. Likewise, workers in other sectors must stay unimpaired when operating heavy machinery.
Employers will be able to mitigate these risks by identifying and managing their employees through drug and alcohol tests before any incidents can happen. Thus, they provide their employees with a safe and healthy working environment whilst promoting health and safety practices.
Other Benefits of Drug and Alcohol Tests
Without a doubt, conducting drug and alcohol tests in order to make the workplace safe from accidents caused by drug and alcohol impairment is vital for health and safety. Consequently, conducting workplace drug and alcohol testing can also provide companies and businesses with further benefits. These benefits include:
- Higher workforce productivity – drug and alcohol use and abuse are one of the primary causes of employee absenteeism and high turnover rates. Hence, eliminating these factors results in companies having higher productivity due to increased worker output and fewer work interruptions.
- Improved employee morale – employees that are working in a safe and healthy environment are more likely to perform better. It is due to them having a better overall state of mind while working if they feel safe and cared for. Less workplace accident and injury rates result in improved employee morale and better quality of work.
- Reduced legal liabilities and costs – the Australian Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws require companies and businesses to care for their employees’ safety. Minimising workplace-related risks with drug and alcohol tests can prevent legal issues from happening. In addition, employers can save money by reducing the chances of having to pay for cover costs for workplace accidents and injuries.
Workplace Drug and Alcohol Policy
Before a company or business conducts a drug and alcohol test on their employees, it is highly recommended that they first implement a comprehensive workplace drug and alcohol policy. Implementing a workplace drug and alcohol policy is essential in order to organise and manage drug and alcohol tests in the workplace. The workplace drug and alcohol policy should include clear and concise guidelines and provisions on the following:
- Reason for conducting drug and alcohol tests in the workplace
- The kinds of drug and alcohol testing to be implemented
- Types of test methods to be used
- Procedures on testing and test methods
- The course of action when an employee returns with a positive test result
- How documentation and confidentiality of test results are to be handled
- Repercussions of violating the workplace drug and alcohol policy
It is critical for an employer to outline everything stated above clearly. The employer is legally accountable for their workers’ health and safety while under their employment. Similarly, employees must be responsible for maintaining personal and peer health and safety. This responsibility should include following the implemented workplace drug and alcohol policy set by the employer. Hence, all employees should have read, understood and accepted the policy before any drug and alcohol test can occur. In addition, employers should convey all changes or updates in the policy to everybody involved in the workplace before any further implementation can take place. Failure to provide prior notification to employees is a violation of their constitutional rights.
Kinds of Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace
- Pre-employment Testing – All potential job candidates must pass a drug and alcohol test before being hired. This testing can prevent hiring employees with possible drug or alcohol abuse tendencies that can disrupt the existing workplace.
- Annual Physical or Blanket Testing – Testing employees for drugs and alcohol as part of an annual physical examination. This involves testing all employees simultaneously to determine if they are fit for work.
- For-cause or Reasonable Suspicion Testing – Testing employees that show noticeable signs of possibly being under the effects of either drugs or alcohol. It is advisable to document all behavioural patterns before conducting any tests. Employers must have strong evidence in order to require an employee to undergo for-cause or reasonable suspicion testing.
- Post-accident/ incident Testing – Testing workers who were involved in a workplace accident or incident. It is to determine if drugs or alcohol use and abuse were a contributing factor to the accident or incident.
- Post-treatment or Return to Work Testing – Testing employees who are returning to work from a leave of absence or after completing a rehabilitation program. This ensures that workers are fit to work after an unexpected absence or illness. Alternatively, this test is conducted on employees who previously tested positive from a prior drug and alcohol test.
- Random Testing – Testing workers in an unannounced manner. This testing identifies employees that are concealing their drug and alcohol use and abuse. Also, it helps deter the existing workforce from attaining drug and alcohol issues while currently employed.
Types of Test Methods for Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing
The workplace drug and alcohol test may use the following methods:
- Breath Test – breath test using a workplace breathalyser is the fastest and most non-invasive method for alcohol detection. The window for detecting alcohol in breath tests is up to 24 hours.
- Blood Test – a blood test is the most accurate method for detecting drugs and alcohol. It is because it directly detects drug and alcohol compounds in the blood. However, it is not the most common method employed due to the invasive nature of its procedure. Also, it is the most expensive due to requiring a laboratory to process the samples. The window for detecting drugs and alcohol in blood tests is up to 6 to 12 hours.
- Urine Test – a urine test is the most common method for detecting drugs in workplaces. It is less intrusive than blood tests and is more cost-efficient. The window for detecting drugs and alcohol in urine tests is 12 hours.
- Saliva or Oral Fluid Test – saliva or oral fluid tests are an alternative to urine tests. However, it has a shorter detection time frame; it can only detect drug and alcohol use within 6 hours. Thus, it is only ideal for short-term drug and alcohol detection.
- Hair Follicle Test – a hair follicle test has the longest detection period. It can detect drug and alcohol use for up to 90 days. However, like blood tests, it requires a laboratory to process. Hence, it is ideal for determining a person’s substance intake history.
What Method To Choose?
Drug and alcohol tests play a vital role in workplace health and safety. These tests can take several forms. The standard methods in checking if drugs or alcohol are present in the body are breath, blood, urine, saliva (oral fluid) and hair follicle tests. A qualified professional is required to administer drug and alcohol tests using the urine, saliva, hair and blood test methods. On the other hand, anyone can conduct an alcohol breath test by using a workplace breathalyser. It is quick, easy and most importantly, highly accurate. All an employee needs to do is to provide an adequate breath sample by blowing into the sterilised mouthpiece of the device. Then, the breathalyser will display the employee’s exact Blood Alcohol Content (BAC).
Conveniently, Breathalysers Australia offers high-quality BACtrack workplace breathalysers explicitly designed for efficient workplace drug and alcohol tests. Accuracy is everything with Breathalysers Australia’s professional-grade workplace breathalysers. These alcohol breath testers are designed with accuracy-focused engineering in mind, with added features such as:
- Long-term reliability
- Faster warm-up time
- Longer battery life
- Fast and precise results
- High BAC testing
- No false positives
Drug and Alcohol Tests: Breathalysers for Workplace Use
A breathalyser analyses breath samples through sensors to determine the exact BAC level. The BACtrack workplace breathalysers utilise advanced fuel cell sensor technology to deliver accurate and reliable breath tests. These fuel cell sensors are the same kind of sensors that you can find in a police officer’s breathalyser. These sensors can only detect ethyl alcohol, which means false-positive BAC results are unlikely to happen due to other substances present in the breath sample. A company or business conducting drug and alcohol tests can greatly benefit from devices like the BACtrack workplace breathalysers at Breathalysers Australia.
As stated before, sobriety in the workplace is essential, especially if the work involves the operation of heavy equipment or driving. Alcohol impairments at work can also lead to low productivity, problematic behaviour, and strained relationships with colleagues or superiors. Therefore, high precision in test equipment is vital in a workplace drug and alcohol test. The workplace breathalysers at Breathalysers Australia are a reliable selection of alcohol breath testers for workplace use. They are extremely valuable for alcohol test requirements across the Australian workplace environment. In particular, the BACtrack Mobile Gen2 and S80 Pro Gen2 are ideal workplace breathalysers delivering optimum performance even after several tests. Furthermore, the Mobile Gen2 is a suitable unit for remote alcohol testing, and the S80 Pro Gen2 can provide up to 1,500 highly accurate tests with just a set of AA batteries.
BACtrack Workplace Breathalysers at Breathalysers Australia for Employers
For employers, drug and alcohol test requirements with the BACtrack workplace breathalysers are as efficient as ever. The workplace breathalysers offered at Breathalysers Australia are as follows:
- The BACtrack S80 Pro Gen2 – this workplace breathalyser features the industrial-grade Xtend Electrochemical fuel cell sensor with enhanced linear accuracy. Moreover, it is designed specifically for commercial environments requiring precise and efficient back-to-back alcohol breath tests.
- The BACtrack Mobile Gen2 – this smartphone and workplace hybrid breathalyser is modified to fit remote breath alcohol monitoring needs. Furthermore, this device can connect to a smartphone device seamlessly through Bluetooth and can deliver quick and accurate BAC results to the BACtrack app. The app is compatible with most iOS and Android devices. Therefore, it is an efficient tool for compliance, especially for employees working off-site.
- The Alcovisor Mercury Touchscreen – this alcohol breath testing device offers multiple breath screening and testing modes. It can give an instantaneous reading by detecting alcohol in the screening mode or accurate BAC reading in the testing mode. It has a platinum electrochemical sensor that gives this device unparalleled levels of accuracy. Furthermore, it has an optimal touchscreen design for efficient operation. This workplace breathalyser is most suitable for high throughput, high compliance workplace environments.
Drug and Alcohol Tests: Breathalysers for Personal Use
On the other hand, for employees who consume alcohol regularly but want to control their intoxication, it is best to use a personal breathalyser. They can check their exact BAC levels through a personal breathalyser after every drink. Having a personal breathalyser, like one from the selection of BACtrack personal breathalysers available at Breathalysers Australia, can help employees monitor their alcohol consumption and improve safety. Thus, being able to comply with the policies set by companies and businesses, such as drug and alcohol test requirements.
For employees, owning a BACtrack personal breathalyser from Breathalysers Australia can be highly beneficial in terms of safety and compliance. Employees can ensure their alcohol sobriety even before the workplace drug and alcohol test. It gives them certainty to be able to pass any alcohol breath testing requirements. Breathalysers Australia has various BACtrack personal breathalysers that cater to the specific needs of each individual. Firstly, the BACtrack keychain breathalysers are the most portable alcohol breath testers on the market without sacrificing accuracy. Secondly, the BACtrack smartphone breathalysers can seamlessly connect to most iOS and Android devices using Bluetooth. Lastly, the BACtrack professional-grade breathalysers are unparalleled in terms of their accuracy.
BACtrack Personal Breathalysers at Breathalysers Australia for Employees
Personal breathalysers help employees monitor their alcohol consumption and clear a drug and alcohol test. The personal breathalysers offered at Breathalysers Australia are as follows:
- The BACtrack Go Keychain – is the smallest and sleekest alcohol breath tester on the market.
- The BACtrack C6 Keychain – is the smallest fuel cell sensor breathalyser ever created. The C6 delivers reliable and accurate BAC results from a tiny yet powerful package.
- The BACtrack C8 Smartphone – it has a unique Dual-Mode operation. With the Standalone Mode, you can get your BAC results delivered directly to a bright, easy-to-read OLED screen. Alternatively, with the App Mode, this device can seamlessly pair with your smartphone via Bluetooth.
- The BACtrack Scout – is the most affordable hand-held breathalyser that can deliver accurate and reliable BAC results at the touch of the button.
- The BACtrack Trace Pro – is perfect for personal use alcohol-testing applications. This device gives accurate BAC readings in seconds.
- The BACtrack Trace Pro Gen2 – is Breathalysers Australia’s biggest selling personal use breathalyser. It provides users with an easy way to obtain accurate BAC readings in seconds.
- The BACtrack Mobile Pro – is a smartphone breathalyser that integrates a smartphone app and a fuel cell alcohol breath tester to bring BAC results wirelessly to your device. It features Bluetooth connectivity, innovative tracking, personalisation and Apple Health integration tools.
- The BACtrack S80 Pro – is the premier professional-grade breathalyser. With its enhanced linear accuracy and convenient one-touch operation, this breathalyser is ideal for commercial applications as well as personal breath testing.
In conclusion, the effects of illicit substances and alcohol intoxication are detrimental for both employers and employees in a workplace environment. They have a direct influence on workplace health and safety as well as workforce productivity and morale. Moreover, it can cause employers issues due to legal liabilities. Hence, increasing unnecessary costs that come from it. Thus, drug and alcohol tests as part of a comprehensive workplace drug and alcohol policy are imperative to any company or business. In addition, outlining the different testing methods and procedures involving the workplace drug and alcohol policy is essential for proper implementation. Lastly, with the help of BACtrack workplace and personal breathalysers from Breathalysers Australia, drug and alcohol tests are as easy, efficient and cost-effective as possible.