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Failed Drug Test and Alcohol Test for Employees: What to Do?

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Drug and alcohol testing is a cost-effective measure for managing safety hazards in the workplace. Many people consume alcohol regularly, which has an impact on work performance. Additionally, substance impairment is a leading cause of workplace accidents or injuries. It is also a significant factor in low productivity rates and high costs. Therefore, it is imperative for companies to implement workplace testing to minimise the negative impacts of drug or alcohol use. It includes the annual medical examination and onsite random testing. Likewise, workplace safety is a shared responsibility between employers and staff. Employers must keep the working environment safe and healthy by managing preventable risks. In turn, employees abide by the company regulations and safety procedures to prevent untoward incidents. However, what happens if an employee has a failed drug test or alcohol test result?

The misuse of drugs and alcohol has drastic effects on health and safety. It can severely impair the senses, reasoning, and motor functions necessary for performing tasks safely. In particular, intoxication makes operating a vehicle or machinery difficult and may lead to poor decision-making. Through consistent monitoring, the workplace can lower accident rates and promote healthier practices. A failed drug test or alcohol test may endanger the workplace without stern policies or disciplinary actions.  Devices from Breathalysers Australia can help identify the impairments before an incident occurs. It also helps deter substance abuse and protect the well-being of all employees.

Drug Test and Alcohol Test for Employment

Drug and alcohol testing is mandatory for safety-regulated industries. For example, the mining, construction, manufacturing, and transportation sectors have zero-tolerance policies for illegal drugs and alcohol to maintain a risk-free environment. Moreover, more private companies implement drug and alcohol testing to manage occupational risks effectively. Employers may deal with failed drug tests and alcohol tests through a comprehensive policy. The common procedures are breath tests for alcohol and urine or saliva test for drugs. The test methods perform the following functions:

  • Breath test – A breathalyser device like BACtrack detects alcohol and measures the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). A positive BAC result means that a person has recent alcohol exposure. Additionally, the BAC indicates the intoxication degree. For example, the higher the BAC level, the more severe the impairment. 
  • Urine test – The basic procedure for drug screening is urine analysis. A urine test can trace several illicit substances from a sample. The collection is less invasive than a blood test. Likewise, a regular urine test can determine drug use for 48 hours and up to 72 hours for advanced tests.
  • Saliva test – A saliva or mouth swab test can detect drugs for 5 to 48 hours. It is an efficient alternative to a urine test. 
  • Blood test – The most accurate test is the blood test. However, its high cost and invasive nature are more suitable as a confirmatory test for a preliminary failed drug test or alcohol test result. 

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What Happens After a Failed Drug Test or Alcohol Test

The employer may facilitate workplace tests for several reasons. The common instances are pre-employment, random, annual examination, post-incident, and reasonable suspicion. For example, employees in high-risk workplaces must pass an alcohol or drug test before entering the premises. However, what happens if an employee returns with a failed drug test or alcohol test result? The employer has several options in dealing with a positive result. Likewise, the affected employee may avail of due process. The company and staff may take the following approaches:

  • Include a medical review process: The employee may contest the test results and request a retest. In a confirmation test, a Medical Review Officer (MRO) studies the test procedure and may ask questions to the employee. Then, the MRO will validate the final result. 
  • Probation – Part of disciplinary action for a failed drug and alcohol test is undergoing probation for several weeks or months. The period aims for the employee to abstain from substance use. 
  • Rehabilitation – Treatment is essential, especially for people with alcohol or drug use disorder. The employee agrees to undergo rehabilitation and return to work until fully recovered.
  • Termination – Termination is often the last resort for failed workplace tests. If an employee refuses rehabilitation, it can be grounds for dismissal. However, as an employer, ensure that you follow the workplace policy guidelines to avoid legal issues. 

What Does a Workplace Policy Entail

The primary aim of drug and alcohol tests is to protect employees’ welfare. Monitoring impairment during work hours minimises the risks of accidents. However, a company may only administer employment testing through a clearly-defined policy. It is a statement outlining safety practices and procedures, including facilitating a drug and alcohol test. Additionally, the employer may seek legal counsel to draft these policies. This is to avoid infringing on employee rights while managing workplace hazards. Moreover, a comprehensive prevention program includes the specific prohibited substances, types of tests performed, and the consequences of a failed drug test or alcohol test. 

It is also worth noting that companies implementing drug and alcohol tests must adhere to the State or Federal laws. Drug and alcohol laws may vary between states or territories. For example, safety-regulated workplaces have strict procedures, especially when an employee has a failed drug test or alcohol test result. However, private organisations may have several options to accommodate the affected employee. In most cases, a company policy aims to secure safety rather than punish. Therefore, employers must weigh all the factors in dealing with a positive test result. 

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How To Ensure Safety

Consistent drug and alcohol testing is necessary, especially if safety is critical in the workplace. A mid to low-risk workplace may also use drug and alcohol tests per state laws and company policy. Moreover, employers may request certified laboratories to facilitate onsite tests. A failed drug test or alcohol test may mean that an employee is coping with a substance abuse problem. Therefore, consistent screening may provide timely intervention through an Employee Assistance Program. The workplace devices from Breathalysers Australia provide accurate and reliable breath test results. Furthermore, a workplace breathalyser enables the employer to conduct frequent BAC tests as needed to manage safety risks. Similarly, employees can use personal devices to test their alcohol levels before work. A personal breathalyser like the BACtrack helps moderate consumption and keeps from going over the legal driving limit

Alcohol Tests at Breathalysers Australia

Breathalysers Australia offers a wide range of alcohol testers for personal or professional use. Most BACtrack breathalysers employ fuel cell sensor technology to measure the BAC accurately. Fuel cell breathalysers are the same technology law enforcement uses in roadside screening. Therefore, you get pro-grade accuracy with the BACtrack fuel cell breathalysers. Moreover, the best way to avoid getting a failed drug test and alcohol test is to abstain from consuming impairing substances that may affect health and safety. A breathalyser is a cost-efficient device that individuals and companies use to maintain safety. 

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