The 2023 Ultimate Guide to Drug and Alcohol Testing in NZ
15 December, 2022
Illicit drugs and alcohol use has been a persistent health and safety issue in New Zealand. It has led to long-term health problems and significant safety risks. Moreover, the impact of illegal drugs and alcohol affects not only the individual but also concerns the family and community. Particularly, impaired driving is one of the top factors of road crashes and fatalities. The workplace is also not exempt from the negative impacts of drugs and alcohol. Most working adults spend considerable time at work; therefore, it is a critical area that needs monitoring. As a result, many organisations include drug and alcohol testing in NZ to help manage drug and alcohol misuse and related hazards.
Safety and well-being in the workplace are fundamental rights of employees. Therefore, employers must provide the highest security practicable to keep the work environment healthy and hazard-free. It includes ensuring there is no physical harm that may lead to injuries. Workplace safety also covers individual factors such as employee behaviours and conditions. Drug and alcohol use is also an issue within the industrialised sectors. Hence, state regulations mandate drug and alcohol testing in NZ, particularly in high-risk workplaces. Companies employ various strategies to monitor substance use. One of the standard methods is using a breathalyser for alcohol. Breathalysers New Zealand offers professional devices to help organisations manage alcohol-related risks.
Drug and Alcohol Use: Why They Are Not Allowed in the Workplace
Certain drugs have adverse health effects rather than benefits. For this reason, they are classified as illegal. Thus, state laws prohibit their use and distribution in any place or situation. However, illicit substances in New Zealand persist. Additionally, alcohol has intoxicating properties that pose harm when taken excessively. Alcohol and drugs slow down the functions of the body, especially the senses, perception, and coordination. Moreover, many aspects of the workplace require alertness, sound reasoning, and quick reflexes. An impairment to these abilities can interfere with work performance or cause accidents. Therefore, drug and alcohol testing in NZ is essential to reduce untoward incidents. Furthermore, substance impairment has the following impacts:
- Affects efficiency reducing work output
- Illnesses and injuries
- Higher absenteeism or tardiness
- High costs due to hospitalisation, property damage, or training of new employees
- Conflict with management or co-workers
- Poor decision-making
Implementing Drug and Alcohol Testing
Mainly, high-risk industries administer drug and alcohol tests because of the safety-critical nature of the job. Sectors like mining, aviation, transportation, healthcare, construction and manufacturing require workers to undergo periodic drug and alcohol tests. However, more organisations recognise the value of drug and alcohol testing in NZ as they help manage preventable occupational hazards. Employers confronted with substance issues may want to conduct a workplace test through a comprehensive policy. The workplace policy guides how to handle drug and alcohol situations consistently. It includes the objectives or purpose of the policy, safety regulations, and conditions for administering drug and alcohol tests. It also contains the list of prohibited substances, the specific procedures or test methods, and the consequences of a failed test result.
Drug and Alcohol Testing in NZ: Does it Affect Employee Rights?
Introducing drug and alcohol testing in NZ workplaces may be challenging for some employers. It is a contentious issue that touches on employees’ rights. However, workplace testing is essential if drug and alcohol use results in many incidents. Furthermore, businesses may implement preventive measures to minimise safety hazards under the Health and Safety Work Act (HSW Act). It includes administering drug and alcohol tests to monitor employees and ensure they are not under the influence of impairing substances. Thus, a workplace policy helps employers mitigate legal risks and liabilities. It is also best to get expert legal advice in setting the policies. Moreover, the common employment testing issues are as follows:
- Employee rights to privacy: many deem workplace testing infringes the right to privacy. However, workplaces may conduct these tests for safety reasons to protect employees or the public.
- Refusing a drug and alcohol test: a refusal without good cause is typically treated as a failure to follow a reasonable request and a ground for dismissal. However, employers must follow a fair process when treating refusal to take a drug or alcohol test, especially if it is a part of the employment agreement.
- Fairness: the policy should ensure that employees are not discriminated against during a workplace test.
- False results: employees have a right to challenge or question a positive test result.
- Consequences of a failed test result: most policies would include suspension or referral for treatment. In extreme cases, it may lead to termination.
Situations for Drug and Alcohol Testing in NZ Workplaces
The workplace policy defines appropriate and inappropriate or unacceptable substance use behaviour. Therefore, employers must communicate the policy to employees to avoid misunderstandings. Moreover, employers obtain the employees’ agreement through a written consent form to facilitate workplace drug and alcohol testing in NZ. Hence, employees will know the reasons and conditions for the test. Most workplaces administer drug and alcohol tests for the following instances:
- Pre-employment: companies require applicants to pass a drug and alcohol screening to be eligible for the position. It is a standard prerequisite, especially in safety-sensitive roles.
- Periodic: performed on current employees at consistent periods throughout the year. Many companies include a drug and alcohol test during annual physical examination.
- Random: testing employees without prior notice through a random selection process. Random testing can effectively monitor the workers’ impairment and help deter substance use or abuse.
- Post-incident: testing workers involved in the accident or near-miss to see if drugs or alcohol contribute to the incident.
- Reasonable suspicion: if a supervisor or manager has a justifiable suspicion that an employee is under the influence of impairing substances. For example, a worker shows reduced abilities like loss of balance, slow reaction time, and uncoordinated movements. Likewise, a person may manifest bloodshot eyes, alcohol odour in the breath, or sleeping while on duty.
- Return-to-work: workers with previous positive results must clear new tests to prove they are fit for work. Employees returning from treatment or hospitalisation must also perform a new drug and alcohol test.
Drug and Alcohol Testing in NZ: Test Methods
Drug and alcohol testing in NZ involves collecting and examining biological samples for the presence of illicit substances. There are various methods to test for drugs and alcohol. Previously, these tests were performed using urine, blood, and hair samples in hospitals or clinics. Fortunately, there are easier and more convenient ways to test for drugs and alcohol using instant drug testing kits and workplace breathalysers like the BACtrack. Therefore, it enables employers to conduct workplace testing more efficiently. The standard test methods are:
- Urine – urine test is the most common method in workplace testing because it is quick and painless. Using test kits can give rapid results. For example, urine test strips will change colours if it detects the presence of various substances.
- Saliva – saliva test through a mouth swab can determine drug use within 5 to 48 hours, depending on the type of drugs and the last consumption. More workplaces are using saliva tests due to their ease of use.
- Hair – hair strands can detect drugs and alcohol for up to 90 days. The longer detection window helps determine a person’s substance use history.
- Blood – this is the most accurate because it tests for drug compounds rather than metabolites directly in the blood. However, it is the most intrusive because it requires blood extraction. It is also costly as it needs laboratory examination to process the sample.
- Breath – a breathalyser device examines the breath sample to measure the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC).
On-site Drug and Alcohol Testing in NZ
Companies may administer drug and alcohol testing in NZ in two ways: in-clinic or on-site. In in-clinic testing, performs the procedure at a facility. However, it may mean lost time due to workers leaving work for several hours. On the other hand, on-site testing is conducted within the workplace or at a nearby location. Employers may administer drug and alcohol tests on-site using test drug test kits and breathalysers. Fortunately, these tools are convenient, reliable and easy to use. It only takes a few minutes to perform the procedures and get the results. With drug test kits, you may acquire the results within five minutes compared to several days in a laboratory. Similarly, a breath test can return the results in seconds. Therefore, employers may reduce testing costs using workplace devices like the BACtrack breathalysers.
Alcohol Tests with a Breathalyser
Drug and alcohol testing in NZ with a breathalyser is a quick and convenient way to monitor employees’ sobriety. A breathalyser is a portable electronic device used to measure Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). The BAC is the percentage of alcohol in the bloodstream. Breathalysers calculate the BAC as the amount of ethanol in grams for every 100ml of blood. For instance, the more you consume alcohol, the higher your BAC. Additionally, high BAC levels result in severe impairments. Breathalysers capture the exhaled breath and analyses the sample through the sensors. Workplaces with zero-tolerance policies use a breathalyser to know a person’s BAC. For example, if a person heavily consumes an alcoholic beverage the night before the test, it is likely for a breathalyser to trace alcohol in the system.
A workplace breathalyser like the BACtrack from Breathalysers New Zealand utilises fuel cell sensor technology to measure the BAC. Drug and alcohol testing in NZ workplaces, roadsides, and healthcare facilities uses fuel cell breathalysers. Fuel cell sensors work by undergoing an electrochemical process to oxidise alcohol in the breath. The sensors produce tiny electrical charges based on the amount of alcohol in the breath. Furthermore, fuel cell sensors are highly sensitive to ethanol and do not react with other substances. Therefore, it is less likely to produce false positives. For this reason, fuel cell breathalysers like the BACtrack are the industry’s standard for accurate alcohol breath tests.
Selecting the Best Workplace Breathalyser
A reliable workplace device is important to secure accurate test results during drug and alcohol testing in NZ. This is because a false result may have dire consequences. Hence, choosing the best workplace device is vital. Breathalysers New Zealand offers robust alcohol testers ideal for professional use. Each workplace device at Breathalysers New Zealand employs industrial-grade fuel cell sensors to trace alcohol over a complete BAC range. Thus, they are suitable for high-volume use in the workplace. The following are the workplace breathalysers at Breathalysers New Zealand that you can choose from:
- BACtrack S80 Pro Gen2: the device has advanced features on top of the highly reliable Xtend fuel cell sensor. The enhanced linear response can accurately trace concentrations of alcohol right through 0.400% BAC. As a result, it is perfect for back-to-back testing.
- BACtrack Mobile Gen2: the smartphone connectivity of the Mobile Gen2 enables remote alcohol monitoring. Employees in off-site locations may perform a breath test and send the BAC results to a central office.
- Alcovisor Mercury: the breathalyser offers dual testing modes – breath screening and testing. The screening mode gives instantaneous reading whether it detects alcohol or not. When alcohol is present, you may fit a mouthpiece for BAC testing. The Mercury also offers an array of user-friendly functions, including touchscreen, GPS positioning, test record storage, and downloadable information to a PC.
- Alcovisor Alcotorch: a passive breath screening tool using a lighting system. The device is ideal for a large flow of people entering a venue.
Features of the BACtrack Breathalysers
It is vital to know the breathalyser features when choosing an appropriate device for drug and alcohol testing in NZ. Each BACtrack device at Breathalysers New Zealand has distinct properties suiting different needs or situations. However, you can trust that all BACtrack breathalysers are user-friendly and efficient for personal or workplace testing. Therefore, when choosing a workplace breathalyser, you may consider the following features:
- One-touch operation: most BACtrack breathalysers have a one-button function for ease of use. After pressing the power button, wait for a few seconds before giving a breath sample and viewing your results.
- Optimal breath capture: each BACtrack device has a mini solenoid pump that activates at the end of each test. It ensures that only the precise breath samples go through the sensors and keeps out ambient air and other contaminants.
- Fast warm-up time: the BACtrack sensors have a short warm-up period so that you can take a breath test immediately.
- Instant results: the BACtrack breathalysers process the breath sample and display the results within 10 to 15 seconds.
- Consistency: the fuel cell sensors remain stable despite consecutive use without compromising accuracy. They also remain consistent over a longer period before recalibration.
- Recalibration: the BACtrack workplace breathalysers require servicing every 6 and 9 months, depending on the model and certification requirement.
- Smartphone connectivity: some devices like the BACtrack Mobile Pro are Bluetooth-enable to pair seamlessly with a smartphone. Thus, you may view the BAC results directly on iOS or Android phones.
Understanding How Drugs and Alcohol Affect the Body
Drugs and alcohol are substances that can have immediate effects after ingestion. This is because these substances absorb rapidly in the body through the bloodstream. They are carried in various organs where they can stay for certain periods. Additionally, the different classifications of drugs according to their effects on the nervous system are worth noting. A drug can either be a depressant, hallucinogenic, or stimulant. In particular, alcohol is a depressant substance that can slow down the messages between the brain and body. As a result, it impairs concentration and coordination. It also slows down the ability to respond to unexpected situations such as immediate danger. Hence, employers execute drug and alcohol testing in NZ to avoid harm to the individual and others.
In small doses, alcohol induces euphoric effects. It can make a person feel more relaxed and less inhibited. However, higher amounts may cause drowsiness, confusion, unconsciousness, or poisoning. Therefore, health experts recommend moderate consumption or following the national alcohol guidelines. Individuals may use a personal breathalyser to help manage their intake. It can also help employees pass drug and alcohol testing in NZ by frequently monitoring the BAC level during consumption. Likewise, many factors can affect the increase of the BAC. Knowing these factors helps control the alcohol level within the legal limit. The following influences a person’s BAC:
- Body fat distribution
- Water content
- Food intake
- Prescription medication
- Metabolism rate
- Alcohol tolerance
- The alcohol concentration in a drink
Drug and Alcohol Testing in NZ: What Can Employees Do?
Employees play a huge role in securing workplace health and safety. Their adherence to policies can greatly improve the working environment. Moreover, employees undergo drug and alcohol testing in NZ, especially if it is part of the employment agreement. Workers in high-risk industries frequently take drug and alcohol tests to ensure they do not contribute to the safety hazards. Some workplaces like mining require a breath test before employees can enter the work site. Thus, it is common for employees to control their alcohol intake after work hours. Individuals may limit their consumption to the number of drinks. However, various beverages have different individual effects. Some people may also risk drink driving after consumption. Thus, the best way to avoid untoward road or workplace incidents is to use a personal breathalyser.
Personal Breathalysers for Employee Use
Alcohol consumption is a part of some people’s downtime activities. It is often a part of social gatherings and festivities. Likewise, many employees consume alcohol after work to help relieve tension or stress. However, unrestrained intake can quickly escalate to severe impairments. Previously, breathalyser devices are limited to law enforcement use for roadside screening. Fortunately, personal breathalysers are more accessible to help individuals manage their consumption. With a personal breath tester like the BACtrack, employees can effectively monitor their alcohol levels. For instance, they may check their BAC every hour or after each round of drinks. Then, they may be able to assess whether it is safe to continue, slow down, or stop drinking. In addition, employees may use a breathalyser before work to avoid workplace issues, including drug and alcohol testing in NZ.
A personal breathalyser device like BACtrack is highly beneficial for avoiding various hazards in and out of the workplace. Firstly, breathalysers can help individuals deter drink driving. New Zealand imposes a legal limit for alcohol at 0.05% BAC. It means that your alcohol concentration must not exceed 0.05g for every 100ml of blood. Checking the BAC levels before driving helps ensure you are within the legal limit. As a result, it can significantly reduce road accidents or avoid drink driving charges. In addition, most BACtrack breathalysers have pro-grade accuracy, similar to the devices used in drug and alcohol testing in NZ workplaces or roadside screening.
Personal Breathalysers at Breathalysers New Zealand
Personal breathalysers can help individuals comply with drug and alcohol testing in NZ workplaces. Additionally, it helps employees feel more confident that they are fully sober for work. Therefore, Breathalysers New Zealand offers various BACtrack personal alcohol testers that cater to multiple needs of each individual. You may avail the following breathalysers from Breathalysers NZ below:
- Keychain: the BACtrack keychain breathalysers are the lightest and sleekest alcohol testers on the market. Their keyring feature makes carrying it easier. Moreover, the BACtrack Go keychain has a fold-out mouthpiece to keep external pollutants from entering the sensors when not in use. On the other hand, the BACtrack C6 keychain is the smallest breathalyser utilising fuel cell sensor technology.
- Smartphone: the BACtrack C8, C6, and Mobile Pro are breathalysers with smartphone connectivity. You can access your BAC results through the BACtrack app, where you can track your previous BAC data in a graph and estimate your sobriety through the ZeroLine technology. This features measures how long your BAC will return to 0.00% based on the last reading.
- Pro-grade: the BACtrack Professional devices are the top-range breathalysers of Breathalysers NZ. The BACtrack S80 Pro, Mobile Pro, Scout, Trace Pro and Trace Pro Gen2 utilise the Xtend fuel cell sensor technology. They are FDA-approved as effective breath screening devices.
Drug and alcohol testing in NZ is essential to keep the workplace and individuals safe and healthy. Employers may use various strategies or test methods according to their particular needs or requirements. Without a doubt, a workplace breathalyser is a valuable device that can be used in multiple situations needing instant BAC checking or monitoring. Likewise, employees may use personal breathalysers to help keep their alcohol intake under control. Companies and employees may get a suitable BACtrack breathalyser at Breathalysers New Zealand.