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How to Manage Alcohol at Work

04 March, 2022

Alcohol intoxication at work is a long-standing management issue. In high-risk industries, alcohol impairment is one of the top reasons for workplace accidents. Moreover, workers under the influence of alcohol can have impaired senses that be safety hazards. Unfortunately, alcohol at work is also prevalent across all sectors of New Zealand. For this reason, employers manage alcohol consumption at work by implementing alcohol programs and policies. An alcohol program helps minimise safety risks and deter alcohol use. Additionally, workplaces implement a zero-tolerance policy wherein workers cannot have alcohol or illicit substances in their system. Through devices offered by Breathalysers New Zealand, like BACtrack breathalysers and on-site testing services, employers can easily monitor Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC).

Workplace Alcohol Policy and Program

Every worker has the fundamental right to a safe work environment. The workplace should foster a healthy environment by promoting wholesome lifestyles and minimising unsafe practices. Consequently, the employer must provide a safe and healthy environment by reducing factors that can harm their employees. A comprehensive alcohol policy can effectively manage alcohol at work. The program must state the provisions to administer an alcohol test. For example, if an employee notices a colleague working with different behaviour, they can report it to a supervisor to request a breath screening test. There must be a reasonable cause to ask an employee to do a breathalyser test. Typically, intoxication shows physical symptoms such as:

  • slurred speech
  • bloodshot eyes
  • alcohol odour
  • heavy sweating
  • nauseous
  • poor balance
  • uncoordinated movement
  • inability to work properly

Persistent risky behaviour caused by alcohol at work can cause severe health and safety compromises in the workplace. A healthy and safe work environment means effectively managing the risks and hazards involved that may jeopardise the workplace. It requires a collaborative effort from both employer and employee to attain a zero accident/ incident protocol. Thus, keeping the workplace safe.

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Alcohol at Work: Prevention

Attaining zero accidents/ incidents requires a collaborative effort from both management and personnel. A comprehensive alcohol at work policy or program can help reinforce safety management practices to maintain a safe working environment. A zero-tolerance policy is critical in high-risk industries such as mining, transportation, construction and manufacturing. One of the best ways to prevent alcohol at work is to establish clear and strict boundaries from the start. Safe practices begin at the recruitment process. Employers must inform prospective employees of conditions such as zero alcohol or drug tolerance in the workplace. 

Employers provide pre-employment tests, random tests and tests based on suspicion. These constant tests can help deter before, during or alcohol at work issues in the workplace. Aside from safety, these tests may also help improve an employee’s lifestyle, making them less likely to pick up bad habits. BACtrack workplace breathalysers, available at Breathalysers New Zealand, can help perform alcohol tests frequently in the workplace. BACtrack devices only need 10 to 15 seconds to process the results. Therefore, these devices are suitable for reliable back-to-back testing as required in workplace testing programs.

Alcohol at Work Breath Testing

The best method of testing for alcohol at work is with using alcohol breath testers or breathalysers. Using a breathalyser device for workplace alcohol breath testing is a cost-efficient method of monitoring sobriety inside the workplace. For example, an employer, manager or supervisor may request a breath test to determine the BAC level of a suspected employee with alcohol intoxication symptoms. Additionally, under a zero-tolerance alcohol policy or program, an employee is unfit for work if the breath test from the breathalyser shows positive BAC results. Even minimal BAC levels can lead to unsafe working practices that lead to accidents or incidents. Likewise, the employee can face disciplinary actions depending on the set guidelines of the workplace alcohol policy or program. 

Having a breathalyser is critical for workplace alcohol breath testing in New Zealand workplaces. Indeed, for companies wanting to manage alcohol at work. Anyone can operate a breathalyser without needing supervision from a licensed professional. Alcohol breath tests are quick and easy, especially with devices like the BACtrack workplace breathalysers available at Breathalysers New Zealand.

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Alcohol at Work: To Test or Not to Test?

Employers or business owners should not demand or even require an alcohol breath test unless there is a reasonable cause for it. The “reasonable cause” for workplace testing could include the physical symptoms caused by alcohol at work intoxication. Moreover, employees can refuse to take an alcohol breath test if they are unaware of the guidelines presented in the workplace alcohol policy or program. However, an employee whose condition of employment required agreeing to alcohol breath testing for “reasonable cause” can be able to be subjected to penalties or even termination (for severe accidents/ incidents) if they refuse to undertake workplace testing. A good policy or program for workplace alcohol testing also should include:

  • A managed documentation of observations on suspected employees with questionable behaviours, such as the physical symptoms of alcohol intoxication
  • A documented meeting with the alleged employee together with the HR or another manager/ supervisor
  • In case suspected the employee does not have a legitimate explanation, conducting the breath alcohol test should be the next step
  • If the alleged worker fails their test (results come back positive), require the employee to go through rehabilitation, disciplinary action, suspension, or termination depending on the guidelines presented in the workplace alcohol policy or program.

Conclusion

Having an effective drug and alcohol policy can benefit employers and employees in the long term. It helps reduce alcohol at work and minimises work hazards. A safe and healthy working environment increases productivity and boosts employee morale. Start managing alcohol by investing in a reliable device and policy. Breathalysers New Zealand offers the most comprehensive pro-grade breathalysers suitable for workplace use. Furthermore, BACtrack workplace breathalysers meet all the New Zealand standards for safe and effective breath test devices. Additionally, it utilises the advanced fuel cell sensor technology used by law enforcement and hospitals.

The BACtrack S80 Pro Gen2 is a premier professional breathalyser that can accurately measure the BAC level or degree of intoxication through its optimal breath capture features. The BACtrack S80 Pro Gen 2 is highly reliable and accurate for workplace breath alcohol testing. It utilises the Xtend electrochemical fuel cell sensor technology to ensure accurate BAC results with each test. The fuel sensor technology of the S80 Pro Gen2 is the same technology you could find in a police officer’s breathalysers used by law enforcement. It is specifically modified to meet mining, construction, transportation, or manufacturing industries’ testing requirements for accurate alcohol breath tests. A BACtrack workplace breathalyser is all you need to free the workplace from alcohol at work accidents or incidents and keep a safe and effective working environment.

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