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What is Standard Drug and Alcohol Test in Australia?

Alcohol and substance impairment are accountable for the high number of road collisions and workplace accidents in Australia every year. Many people consume alcohol on weekdays, where they report for duty the next day. Unfortunately, excessive consumption leads to high-level impairment. High BAC level affects vision, hearing, reaction time, coordination, and balance. In safety-critical industries, mental and physical alertness is vital to perform tasks effectively. In this regard, more employers adopt a workplace program to minimise accidents and manage occupational risks. Companies implementing a standard drug and alcohol test significantly reduced untoward incidents and improved productivity. Monitoring sobriety is more manageable through a breathalyser. A breathalyser like BACtrack estimates the blood alcohol content (BAC) to determine the intoxication level.

Alcohol intoxication is also a massive issue in road safety. A standard drug and alcohol test can prevent many casualties from occurring. Various efforts to reduce drink driving include more sobriety checkpoints and self-checking the BAC level before going. In addition, police officers conduct roadside drug and alcohol testing randomly or suspect an impaired driver behind the vehicle. Police ask the driver to blow into a breathalyser and give a saliva sample for alcohol and drug screening. If the test returns positive results, the person is subject to legal charges in Australia. Therefore, it is critical to check the alcohol level before driving. Breathalysers Australia offers the BACtrack breathalysers for reliable BAC tests. The BACtrack breathalyser processes the breath and delivers the BAC results in 10 to 15 seconds.

New Road Safety Standards

Australia aims towards zero road trauma in the next ten years. As part of a stricter road safety plan, medium and long-term changes will fully address drink driving. The standard drug and alcohol test in Australia combined with the new measures can reinforce more safe and responsible driving. In addition, it hopes to deter harmful use of alcohol and illicit substances. These measures include:

  • Implementing immediate license suspension at the roadside
  • Increase random breath testing at roadside inspections
  • Expanding interlock programs with improved monitoring
  • Developing solutions to reduce DUI driving in remote or regional areas. 

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Drug and Alcohol Test in the Workplace

People spend an average of 40 hours a week at work. Some jobs are inherently safety-critical, like mining, transportation, construction, and manufacturing, where operating machinery is necessary. Testing workers for drugs or alcohol use is a contentious issue, but it is vital in maintaining safety. A comprehensive policy can help employers implement a standard drug and alcohol test while remaining within the legal bounds. In addition, employers must ensure that the worksite is safe by eliminating factors that lead to accidents. Some workplaces implement a zero-tolerance to drugs or alcohol. It means that workers must not have any impairing substances in the system. A workplace policy is crucial in preventing accidents, reducing costs, and decreasing absenteeism, downtime, and turnover rates. 

A standard drug and alcohol test in Australia includes assessing the blood, urine, saliva, and breath sample. A screening test detects the presence of alcohol and prohibited drugs in the system. In particular, drugs and alcohol can stay in the body for 12 to 24 hours or longer. For example, portions of alcohol travel from the stomach to the different body parts through the blood. Then, it exits the body through breath, sweat, or urine. The alcohol breath test through a breathalyser is the standard for alcohol detection and BAC measurement. Meanwhile, a blood or urine sample test tracks drugs use. A blood or urine test detects commonly used drugs like cocaine, cannabis, ecstasy, opioids and meth/amphetamines. 

The Drug and Alcohol Testing Standard in Australia

Accredited laboratories in Australia performs drug and alcohol testing on individuals and organisations. 

The Australian testing standards ensure proper specimen collection and detection procedures of drugs or alcohol. The standard drug and alcohol test follows strict protocols from collecting specimens, handling, storing, examining, and releasing results. In addition, you can consult with the laboratory for specific substances to test and interpret findings. Laboratories must follow specific requirements as standard guides:

  • AS 4308 – Urinary drug screening
  • AS 4760 – Oral fluid drug screening
  • Australian Quality Training Framework (AQTF) – certified urine and oral fluid collection
  • Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GCMS) – confirmatory testing of preliminary screening with non-negative results

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What to expect during drug and alcohol test

Employers can require drug and alcohol testing, especially if safety is critical. However, before executing a drug or alcohol test, the workplace must observe proper protocols. First, they must communicate with all employees the purpose and objectives of the tests as part of the safety program. The policy should outline the provisions of conducting the tests, such as specific substances and testing methods. There should also be provisions if a worker returns a positive or non-negative result. For example, the employer can refer the affected employee for treatment or rehabilitation for substance abuse. Then, employees agree to the policies by signing the consent form. Finally, the employer can implement a standard drug and alcohol test as they see fit.

A standard drug and alcohol test may be done randomly or announced. During on-site testing, the certified laboratory collects samples in a secured location. The process takes between 5 to 10 minutes to complete. Moreover, a post-incident test is necessary after an accident occurs. The test will determine if alcohol or drugs contributed to the event. In some cases, employers require pre-employment testing to determine if the job applicant use illicit substances or medications. Hiring the right person is crucial, mainly if the position entails high alertness. Additionally, an employee returning to work after an injury, absence, or treatment submits a sample test to show they are clear and fit to work. 

Alcohol Breath Tests in Australia

The workplace screens for alcohol use through alcohol breath tests. The standard drug and alcohol test use a breathalyser to screen for alcohol in the body. A breathalyser is a handheld device consisting of sensors to process alcohol in the breath. A professional device like BACtrack breathalysers uses fuel cell sensor technology to measure the BAC level accurately. Fuel cell sensors undergo an electrochemical process to oxidise alcohol and create electrical currents. The number of currents generated is proportional to the concentration of alcohol in the blood. 

A standard drug and alcohol test use a breathalyser with AS 3547 certification for the most reliable BAC tests. Breathalysers Australia offers a wide range of BACtrack breathalysers suitable for personal or professional use. Breathalysers Australia acquires the Australian Standards (AS 3547) on a range of BACtrack models. The AS 3547:1997 ensures the device complies with the Australian and international standards for breath alcohol screening for personal use. In particular, the BACtrack S80 Pro gives the most accurate and consistent BAC results compared to the breathalysers used by police officers. You can check the reliable BACtrack products at Breathalysers Australia.