Complete Range of
Complete Range of Workplace Breathalysers
Our Workplace Use range is suitable for New Zealand transport, construction, manufacturing, logging, and mining industries.
We are heavily committed to Occupational Health & Safety and work with companies that need to be compliant to keep their staff and visitors safe. We also help these companies stay updated with health & safety legal requirements.
Breathalysers for Workplace Use. The 2023 Ultimate Guide
Breathalysers were originally designed for law enforcement use for checking the blood alcohol levels of drivers. However, in recent years, there has been an increasing need for the use of breath testing in workplaces. More companies use these portable devices to ensure employee safety, productivity, and compliance with state or national laws. This is essential for industries with safety-critical nature. Through a reliable device, industries can attain a hazard-free environment.READ MORE>>
Accidents can happen for various reasons. One of the leading factors contributing to workplace injuries is alcohol impairment. Thus, workplace safety is a top priority for any organisation. To prevent such incidents from happening, many companies have started implementing testing programs and policies. This article will delve into the benefits and application of breath testers in professional settings. Furthermore, this guide will cover testing methods and guidelines for workplace screenings. Finally, learn what to consider in a device.
- What Is a Workplace Breathalyser?
- Benefits of Using a Breathalyser in the Workplace
- Different Types of Workplace Breathalysers
- Understanding the BAC in Workplace Breathalysers
- Role of a Breathalyser in the Workplace
- Breathalysers and Workplace Alcohol Policies
- Breathalysers vs Other Alcohol Testing Methods
- How to Use a Breathalyser for Workplace Testing
- How to Use a Breathalyser for Workplace Screening
- How to Choose the Right Breathalyser for the Workplace
What Is a Workplace Breathalyser?
A workplace breathalyser is a portable electronic machine to measure the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of a person. It tests the employees’ alcohol or intoxication level through breath samples and analyses it through sensors. Within a few seconds, the device can show if a person has been working under the influence.
Depending on the amount, alcohol can stay in the system for long hours after ingestion. Thus, the aftereffects can linger, affecting how a person thinks and act. For this reason, many companies conduct breath tests to detect alcohol in the system. It is a non-invasive and cost-efficient method providing fast results. It can also trace even small amounts in a person’s breath.
A breath analyser is a standalone technology that can quantify the BAC at once. It does not need a laboratory process to examine the sample. It also does not need a licensed technician to administer it. However, it requires proper training to operate the device correctly to give accurate results. Therefore, it is convenient for industries to carry out safety regulations.
How Does It Work?
A breath tester measures the BAC in the following ways:
- The device captures the exhaled breath through the mouthpiece and sends it straight to the sensors.
- It contains a chemical solution that changes colours upon contact with alcohol molecules.
- It starts an oxidation process that produces small electrical currents based on the volume of alcohol in the breath.
- The device measures the number of currents and converts them into BAC based on the blood-to-breath ratio. It is calculated as the weight of alcohol in grams per 100 millilitres of blood or 210 litres of breath.
- The device displays the alcohol reading on the screen.
Benefits of Using a Breathalyser in the Workplace
Using a breathalyser in the workplace benefits not just the company but the employees as well. Firstly, it helps individuals manage their alcohol consumption and avoid severe intoxication. This allows employees to ascertain they can come to work completely sober. As a result, they are in a top physical and mental condition to perform their duties.
Secondly, companies can monitor their staff anytime when necessary. Regular alcohol screening helps deter excessive consumption and potential alcohol abuse. It identifies workers with current impairments and withdraws them immediately in safety-sensitive areas. Consequently, this help prevents accidents and minimise other hazards. It also protects other employees from alcohol-related risks.
Moreover, it helps improve and maintain productivity. Fewer incidents lead to fewer disruptions. It allows the companies to reach target deadlines and outputs. In addition, it reduces absenteeism and turnover rates. Thus, some employees do not need to cover for missed work. Lastly, it promotes accountability and shared responsibility. It also boosts employee morale and lessens conflicts.
A breath analyser offers several advantages for workplace use. It is easy to use and non-invasive. Individuals can conveniently provide a breath sample and receive their results in seconds. It can also give quantitative data. Additionally, it is highly portable. It can be used on-site, eliminating the need to go to a clinic or laboratory.
These machines are also reusable. Unlike other test kits, you can use the breath tester as often as needed. It is also suitable for testing several people without compromising their results. Hence, it is a practical and cost-effective approach, enabling them to save time and money.
Different Types of Workplace Breathalysers
Workplace breathalysers come in different types with various functions and features. Companies may use two kinds, such as handheld or stationary units, depending on their testing needs. Each type has its own advantages. A wall-mounted device is larger and uses replaceable sensors. It is typically installed in high-traffic areas before entering work premises.
On the other hand, a handheld device is more common as it is more convenient and affordable. It can also be used for regular testing and random monitoring. Moreover, it is efficient for testing workers in remote locations. Workplace portable units may also include advanced features, such as adjustable settings, testing modes, internal memory, and downloadable data.
Furthermore, these breathalysers employ fuel cell sensors. It is the standard technology used in professional settings, including hospitals and roadside screening. It is also essential for companies to use devices with AS3547:2019 certification to ensure reliable results. Fuel cell sensors give high precision and accuracy because of their specificity to ethanol. Therefore, it minimises the probability of false positives.
The essential features of a breath tester include sensors, a mouthpiece, and an LCD screen to display the results. Sensors are indispensable as it detects and measures the BAC levels. The mouthpiece is where the person blows into. Workplaces may buy additional attachments for mass testing.
Some devices also have additional features, such as a memory function to store previous readings and a warning system for high alcohol levels. Others have Bluetooth or USB connections to sync to a smartphone or computer for data analysis. These features make breath testers a valuable tool for safety management in the workplace.
Understanding the BAC in Workplace Breathalysers
Companies implement alcohol testing to determine the alcohol concentrations of employees. Using a breathalyser allows them to know their exact intoxication levels. Moreover, high BAC levels indicate more severe impairment. The effects can range from lightheadedness and irritability to loss of coordination. Hence, this poses risks, especially in driving or operating heavy equipment.
Impairment starts with a small amount. A BAC of 0.01-0.03% may not have visible effects, but it increases relaxation and elevates mood. 0.04-0.06% lowers inhibition, minor impairment of reasoning and perception (vision, speech, hearing) and starts to lose balance. In New Zealand, a person is legally impaired if the BAC is 0.05% or more.
More pronounced impairments start to show at higher levels. A BAC of 0.08-0.10% includes nausea, memory loss, and mental confusion. A person may need assistance standing or walking. Finally, BACs higher than 0.010% are the onset of dysphoria or feeling unwell. It may also lead to loss of consciousness and alcohol poisoning. By understanding the BAC, employers can prevent severe accidents and injuries. They can also make informed decisions.
Factors That Impact BAC Levels
Several factors affect the rate of BAC increase. Knowing these can help manage drinking habits:
- Alcohol type – each drink contains different concentrations or strengths of alcohol.
- Rate of consumption – how fast a person drinks.
- Gender – women tend to get more intoxicated quickly because of their smaller body size compared to men. Also, women have fewer enzymes that metabolise alcohol.
- Food and water intake – the BAC will increase faster for a person with an empty stomach.
- Alcohol tolerance – long-term drinkers have a higher limit on alcohol before they feel the intoxicating effects.
- Medications – alcohol reacts with medicines.
Role of a Breathalyser in the Workplace
A breathalyser plays a significant role in ensuring the safety and well-being of employees. Its primary purpose is to detect current impairments and prevent untoward incidents through consistent monitoring. High-risk sectors like mining, logging, aviation, transportation, and construction involve operating heavy machinery or vehicles. It can be dangerous if the worker is under the influence of alcohol.
By implementing alcohol testing, employers can ensure that their workers are sober and mentally alert. Therefore, it reduces the risk of errors, which may lead to falls, accidents, and injuries. Additionally, it promotes healthier and safer practices. Some companies offer programs to educate employees on the hazards of alcohol use. Therefore, it aids in forming better habits.
Moreover, companies benefit from reduced absenteeism and turnover rates. Breath testers can be an effective deterrent to alcohol misuse. For instance, employees exercise greater control of their intake to avoid getting sanctions. Overall, these devices act as safeguards and preventive tools for occupational risks. Hence, they help workplaces secure a hazard-free environment.
Main Applications for Workplace Safety
Breathalysers are applicable to various workplace settings. The main use of these devices is testing before or during work hours. Some companies may require breath testing before employees enter the work site. It is also a common practice to conduct random testing to determine whether workers try to hide their impairment.
Employers may also administer an alcohol test during pre-employment to help them hire suitable candidates. In addition, it is vital to test concerned employees to see if alcohol led to an accident or near-miss. Other applications include for-cause testing for an individual showing signs of intoxication.
Breathalysers and Workplace Alcohol Policies
Before implementing workplace testing, it is imperative for companies to set up a comprehensive policy. It is a formal and official document outlining the standard safety measures and regulations for the management and employees. It also includes the specific steps to achieve its objectives, such as breath testing for alcohol. Therefore, workers are aware of the conditions and consequences of non-compliance.
The policy typically includes zero tolerance for alcohol. This means workers must not have any alcohol content in their system while working. Therefore, most workplaces use breathalysers because they are easy and the most convenient detection method. Furthermore, employers must ensure all staff know the conditions of the policy to avoid potential legal disputes. Hence, companies must secure employee consent before testing.
The workplace alcohol policy must also outline the repercussions of positive test results. The penalties may vary depending on the context of the test. An employee may face disciplinary actions to termination of employment. Thus, it is vital to have a reliable device to carry out the policies correctly.
New Zealand enforces strict regulations and procedures for alcohol screening. These involves the methods and requirements for testing, including the qualifications of those conducting the tests. The standard in workplaces is breath testing through a certified device. Employers must also ensure the device is regularly calibrated to maintain high accuracy.
Alcohol breath testing is fast, non-invasive, and cost-efficient. It also enables companies to test independently without an agency. However, employers utilise laboratory procedures to confirm preliminary positive results. It is vital to have a confirmatory test reviewed by a medical officer before imposing any disciplinary actions on the concerned employee.
Breathalysers vs Other Alcohol Testing Methods
There are several ways to test for alcohol. However, a breath test is the most efficient. Workplaces and other professional settings commonly use breathalysers due to their ease of use and quick results. They employ powerful sensor technology, ensuring the validity of the test results. Thus, the procedure can be completed within a few seconds to minutes. This is suitable for situations that need to screen high volumes.
Other methods are urine and oral fluid tests. However, they require more time and resources. In the case of urine sampling, some people may find it difficult to provide a sample on the spot. Likewise, there is a probability of tampering with the specimen. Moreover, instant test kits can detect alcohol but not measure the amount. It requires the samples to be sent to a laboratory for quantification.
Urine and oral fluid testing are also susceptible to false positives due to the presence of other substances or medical conditions. With breath testers, it minimises these instances due to the specificity of fuel cell sensors to ethanol. Nevertheless, several factors may require the need to use various testing methods.
All Test Methods Available
Apart from breath testing, employers may use the following methods:
- Urine test – detects alcohol and its byproducts up to 48 hours after drinking. A test strip will change colours or show lines for the results.
- Oral fluid test – detects alcohol up to 24 hours after drinking. Thus, it is appropriate for monitoring very recent use. It is less intrusive than urine.
- Blood test – the most accurate method. It can detect alcohol for up to 12 hours. However, this procedure is costly and the most intrusive.
- Hair test – traces patterns of alcohol use for up to 90 days.
How to Use a Breathalyser for Workplace Testing
Using a workplace breathalyser is simple that requires a few steps. Each unit may vary in features and functions. It is important to carefully review the instruction manual or receive adequate training before operating the device. Furthermore, companies may use active testing to measure the BAC and passive screening to detect alcohol.
To administer a breath test, power on the machine and wait for the sensors to warm up. It may take 10 to 15 seconds before it signals to blow. Next, ask the employee to exhale steadily for a few seconds until it indicates that the test is complete. The device automatically analyses the sample and shows the BAC reading on the screen.
Companies may set the device to a pre-determined limit to alert if the sample reached a certain level. In most breath testers, the limit is set at 0.05% BAC, the legal alcohol limit in NZ for driving. However, workplaces with zero-tolerance policies may adjust it to a lower level. Similarly, the blow time can be adjusted longer for increased accuracy.
Following the breath test guidelines is essential for getting the most accurate results. Firstly, the administrator should ensure the employee did not eat, drink, or smoke 20 minutes before the test. Secondly, conduct the test in a space without fumes or other vapours. Likewise, avoid enclosed spaces or places with strong winds.
In addition, use a new mouthpiece for each person. Also, the blow should be long and steady while minimising excess saliva from entering the sensors. If a flow error occurs, wait a few seconds before starting a new test. Finally, make sure the device is timely recalibrated.
How to Use a Breathalyser for Workplace Screening
Companies can also conduct a passive screening. It is more straightforward than active testing. A workplace breathalyser with dual testing mode can choose this method to screen employees passing to a secured area. To facilitate this procedure, simply attach a sampling cup to the port and turn on the device. The cup is typically larger than a mouthpiece with a wide base to capture the breath.
The subject blows into the device without touching the cup while maintaining a distance between 3-6 cm. Then, it processes the breath sample and displays a Pass or Fail result. An employee passes if no alcohol is detected in the breath. In contrast, the device will show Fail if it traces even small amounts of alcohol.
Companies use this method mostly in high-traffic areas or for regular screening. It is practical since it is faster and minimises the need for changing mouthpieces. For failed results, however, it is advisable to confirm and measure the exact BAC through active testing mode.
The guidelines for passive screening are similar to active testing. Employees must wait at least 20 minutes after drinking, eating, or smoking before providing a breath sample. Its difference is that this procedure is non-contact. Also, several factors may affect the reading. Therefore, checking the BAC after registering a positive alcohol content is essential.
If the subsequent test shows 0.00% BAC, the initial positive result may be due to an external source or ambient air. Hence, it is vital to conduct the test in an odour or smoke-free area away from possible contaminants. Overall, following the correct testing protocols is important to get reliable readings.
How to Choose the Right Breathalyser for the Workplace
Selecting a breathalyser is crucial to attaining the highest safety level in the workplace. A suitable device will depend on factors such as the type of industry, number of employees, frequency of use, and budget. It is also important to choose a reliable machine that is easy to use and maintain.
Firstly, a workplace unit should adhere to standards like the AS3547:2019. This ascertains that the device meets effective and reliable breath screening requirements. It also includes recalibration regulations to maintain optimal performance. Thus, sensor accuracy is important to help trace alcohol even with the smallest amounts. Likewise, consider how often it needs to be recalibrated and the cost.
Secondly, check the features that can help with specific company needs. For instance, companies may get a smartphone-compatible unit to monitor remote workers, GPS, or with printer options. Others would prefer an option for rapid screening. Lastly, check how to care for the device, mouthpieces, and accessories to prevent damage and minimise maintenance costs.
Best Workplace Units Available
- BACtrack S80 Gen2: has an enlarged fuel cell sensor with enhanced linear accuracy. It has a one-touch button for easy and quick operation. It is best for medium-volume or random testing.
- BACtrack Mobile Gen2: ultra-compact device with Bluetooth capability to deliver BAC results directly to a smartphone. A companion app can record and share previous readings, making it efficient for remote monitoring.
- Alcovisor Mercury: with dual functionality for screening or testing, ideal for high-compliance environments.
- Alcovisor Torch: rapid alcohol detector that lights up when it senses alcohol.
- SHIELD Express (Identity & Touch): the next-generation device for industrial use. Identity includes photo verification.
Companies establish alcohol policies to minimise alcohol-related risks and preventable hazards. It helps them achieve safety standards and ensure compliance with state or national regulations. One of the cost-effective methods is to administer consistent breath tests. Breathalysers are essential tools for monitoring alcohol consumption and impairment in the workplace. It is a quick and reliable way to measure the BAC without being invasive. Moreover, they are highly portable and easy to operate.
Accuracy is the topmost priority when using an alcohol breath tester. The readings from the device can help companies save lives and high costs. It also boosts productivity and employee morale. Therefore, knowing how to use the device correctly is vital for the most accurate results. Furthermore, with many options available, companies must choose a device that meets their specific testing needs. Breathalysers New Zealand offers state-of-the-art devices like the SHIELD Express and BACtrack that can serve various purposes.