Random Alcohol Testing in the Workplace

The majority of adults who consume alcohol spend a significant amount of time at work. Alcohol misuse contributes to many accidents and injuries in the workplace. Excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to severe impairments, which can affect your ability to perform tasks safely. Mainly, a person with a high Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level could compromise workplace safety. Alcohol intoxication affects the senses and perception leading to poor decision making. Additionally, it affects motor functions, including coordination and balance, thereby increasing safety hazards. People who consume alcohol are more likely to injure themselves and harm others. Therefore, many companies apply random alcohol testing in the workplace to minimise accidents.

A comprehensive alcohol policy can help prevent the negative impacts of alcohol impairment. In particular, regulated industries like mining, rail transport, construction, and manufacturing implement strict protocols against alcohol use. These sectors rely on the workers’ top health conditions to perform tasks effectively. However, many private businesses also adopt an alcohol program to combat prevailing alcohol use. In Australia, random alcohol testing in the workplace is legal as long as an effective policy is in place. Many organisations have developed alcohol testing programs to detect alcohol use in the workplace. Therefore, establishing a workplace policy is vital in managing occupational hazards. Combining prevention policies with awareness and education can improve employees’ well-being.

Random Alcohol Testing: In Workplaces

A random alcohol test is an unannounced test to identify employees with any alcohol amount currently in their system. Alcohol impairment has a domino effect resulting in low productivity, increased downtime, risky behaviours, and increased safety risks. Therefore, as an employer, you must minimise all factors that may lead to harm. Under the Work Health and Safety Act of Australia, employers and workers are encouraged to take reasonable steps to ensure a safer environment. A random alcohol testing in the workplace aims to pull out workers that may cause injuries. Depending on your state laws or industry, you can implement alcohol testing for the following reasons:

  • Workplace safety
  • Improve productivity
  • Deter alcohol use
  • Reduced liability costs
  • Help employees with alcohol use disorder
  • Provide a healthy environment
  • Maintain workplace and employee integrity


The Workplace Alcohol Policies and Limitations

The employer may conduct random alcohol testing in the workplace through a well-designed alcohol program. In particular, high-risk industries have zero-alcohol tolerance to prevent alcohol-related incidents. On the other hand, some workplaces have set alcohol limits, following the legal limit (0.05% BAC). If employees have an equal or higher BAC amount, they may face a corresponding consequence. Therefore, an effective workplace policy should have a clear outline. In addition, it should reflect the specific needs of the organisation and the well-being of employees. In general, an alcohol program includes the following:

  • Objectives
  • Scope
  • Rules and regulations
  • Testing methods
  • Types of substance/s to be tested for
  • Confidentiality
  • Disciplinary Actions
  • Employee Assistance

Random alcohol testing in the workplace effectively identifies employees with alcohol abuse problems. Additionally, early detection helps in minimising safety hazards. However, the employer can not test for alcohol without justifiable reasons. The employer may carry out random alcohol testing within the parameters of the policy. For example, the parameters include when the test can occur, how the results will be used, and the consequences of a positive test result. If an employee has a high BAC level, the employer may request a confirmatory test through blood or urine sampling. In addition, the employer may refer affected employees for treatment to assist them in recovering from alcohol abuse. In general, an organisation may conduct an alcohol test to ensure safety or if there is a reasonable cause.


Procedure for Random Alcohol Testing in the Workplace

The employer may avail of the services of an accredited laboratory to facilitate random alcohol testing in the workplace. However, before a company can implement alcohol testing in the working, the employee must sign a consent form. A consent form is a written agreement permitting the employers to screen alcohol in the workplace. When the employee signs the consent form, they agree to provide samples for examination. In particular, the standard methods for alcohol screening are breath or urine sample tests. An alcohol breath test determines alcohol presence through the sample breath. It is a cost-efficient method to identify alcohol use in the workplace. In addition, it is also the least invasive alcohol test, making them ideal for preliminary screening.

Random alcohol testing in the workplace uses a breathalyser device like BACtrack. The BACtrack breathalysers are portable devices using sensors to analyse alcohol in the breath. First, the testing personnel will ask employees to blow to a breathalyser. Then, the breathalyser processes the breath sample and display the results. For example, if an employee recently consumed alcohol, the device will reflect the corresponding BAC level. Most BACtrack breathalysers use fuel cell sensor technology to measure the BAC accurately. Fuel cell sensors undergo an electrochemical process to get the precise BAC amount. In addition, they are not reactive with other substances like acetone that can affect the readings. Therefore, it is least likely to produce false positives, especially for people with diabetes or on a low-calorie diet.

Random Alcohol Testing in the Workplace: Breath Tests

Random alcohol testing in the workplace through a breathalyser is the most practical method to detect alcohol. Companies with an alcohol program use a workplace breathalyser to monitor employees’ sobriety effectively. If a staff show signs of alcohol or substance impairment, you can check their blood alcohol level right away. In line with this, you can get the BACtrack alcohol testers at Breathalysers Australia. Breathalysers Australia offers a wide range of BACtrack breathalysers for various purposes. For instance, you may get a keychain or smartphone breathalyser to monitor your BAC personally. Personal breathalysers can help you limit your alcohol intake and keep you from going over the legal limit.

Breathalysers Australia also offers professional BACtrack breathalysers utilising Xtend fuel cell sensor technology. The Xtend fuel cell sensors can trace alcohol concentrations over complete BAC ranges. As a result, they can accurately determine low to high BAC levels. In addition, fuel cell breathalysers maintain their consistency longer. Therefore, they are suitable for high-volume use, such as random alcohol testing in the workplace. The BACtrack breathalysers can process the breath sample and deliver the results in 10 to 15 seconds.

Improved Workplace Safety

Employee safety and well-being is the top priority across all sectors. A random alcohol testing in the workplace promotes healthier practices. In addition, random alcohol tests should be carried out consistently together with pre-employment and scheduled on site testing. Having a workplace policy helps manage safety risks and reduce the number of accidents. You can also ensure safety by using a personal breathalyser. The BACtrack breathalysers can help you moderate alcohol consumption and keep you safe while driving or working. Finally, you can use a breathalyser to monitor your blood alcohol level and help make informed decisions.