Drug Test for Alcohol Employment: What Is It And Why Is It Needed?
06 July, 2023
Drug testing for employment is a common practice in many industries. It is a safety procedure to detect the possible use of illicit substances among employees. However, some may require an employment drug test for alcohol as well. Aside from illegal drugs, these tests detect recent exposure to alcohol, indicating that a worker is currently impaired. Therefore, companies can ensure to provide a completely substance-free workplace. It is also needed to improve productivity and long-term stability.
Although alcohol is legal, abuse can lead to a host of problems, including the risk of accidents, high costs, and legal liabilities. Hence, employers implement safety policies to prevent alcohol-related hazards from affecting the workplace. There are several methods to implement this, such as urine, oral fluid, blood, and breath testing. In this article, we will explore what a drug test for alcohol, its purpose, and various procedures is.
What is an Employment Drug Test for Alcohol?
An employment drug test for alcohol is a type of test organisations conduct to check if their staff are consuming alcohol. It is a standard practice in high-risk industries, such as mining, transportation, construction, healthcare, and manufacturing. These workplaces implement zero-tolerance policies, prohibiting any amount of illicit drugs and alcohol.
Drug tests detect commonly abused substances, such as cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines/methamphetamines, benzodiazepines, and phencyclidine (PCP). It can also determine if a person is abusing prescription drugs. Moreover, employers may request that ethanol be included in drug screening to know the amount of alcohol in the system. Therefore, it can detect if a person is working under the influence of alcohol.
Companies must first establish a drug and alcohol policy to be able to test employees. It is a written document outlining the organisation’s goals and objectives towards safety. It also includes safety regulations, conditions for testing, test methods, and the consequences of violations. For instance, a positive drug and alcohol test result is subject to disciplinary sanctions, including suspension and termination.
Impacts of Drugs and Alcohol
The use of alcohol and recreational drugs can bring the following negative impacts:
- Impaired physical and mental abilities, such as blurry vision, poor reasoning, and uncoordinated movements.
- Impairments increase the risk of accidents in driving and operating heavy machinery.
- It can lead to serious health problems, such as brain and organ damage, cancer, and stroke.
- Substance abuse may also cause mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.
- Poor memory and decision-making that lead to reduced worker efficiency.
- Display unsafe or aggressive behaviour, which may lead to poor relationships between staff.
- Overdose may lead to poisoning or death.
Why Is a Drug Test for Alcohol During Employment Needed?
A drug test for alcohol during employment helps ensure workplace safety and productivity. Firstly, it monitors current impairments, which expose the workers to accidents and injuries. Consequently, fewer incidents lower medical costs, compensations, and other expenses. In addition, regular testing can help deter substance use and abuse. It also minimises unsafe behaviours.
It also protects companies from legal liabilities in cases of accidents. By conducting drug and alcohol tests, employers execute all practical means to ensure they reduce occupational hazards. They can also exercise their rights to impose disciplinary measures through a policy. Moreover, it can help identify if a person is struggling with addiction and offer rehabilitation assistance.
Fit and able workers can perform their duties safely and effectively. It reduces absenteeism and frequent disruptions. It also does not overwhelm workers who are trying to cover for absent employees. Thus, it does not leave a safety gap. Overall, it improves workplace productivity and stability in the long run. It is a proactive measure to maintain a safe working environment.
Conditions for Testing
Employment drug testing is subject to certain conditions and limitations. Tests must be done with the employee’s knowledge and consent. Additionally, employers may use the most non-invasive methods available. This is to maximise cost efficiency and avoid privacy issues. Moreover, employers should ensure that tests are accurate, reliable, and up-to-date.
The results of the tests must remain confidential between the employer and the employee. Testing agencies or third-party companies should not disclose the results to other people. Furthermore, workers have the right to contest the results and request a retest if necessary. Lastly, these tests may be done during pre-employment, post-incident, or with reasonable grounds.
Employment Drug Test for Alcohol Methods
There are several procedures to conduct a drug test for alcohol during employment. The common methods are urine, oral fluid, and breath sampling. Urine analysis is a standard process for drug screening in the workplace. It can detect illegal drugs for up to 72 hours from the last consumption. However, employers may also request to include alcohol for simultaneous testing.
An oral fluid test uses a mouth swab to detect alcohol and drugs. It can detect substances in the saliva within five to 48 hours, depending on the amount, drug type, and time of last intake. Moreover, for alcohol screening alone, a breath test is the most convenient. A breathalyser device can measure Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). It can detect alcohol up to 24 hours from the last consumption.
A blood test is the most accurate and detailed type of testing. However, it is intrusive and costly. Thus, it is suitable for confirmatory testing and, in cases requiring a comprehensive evaluation. Lastly, a hair test can trace consumption patterns from the last 90 days. It is ideal for determining if a person abuses drugs or alcohol.
How to Avail of Drug Tests for Alcohol
Companies have several options for alcohol screening or monitoring. There are self-test kits that give rapid results within minutes. Most kits only include the common drugs of abuse. Thus, employers may get those that have ethanol in the panel. Companies may request laboratories to include alcohol detection in drug urine screening.
Alternatively, using a workplace breathalyser is a cost-effective option. The device is highly portable and can be used at any time without laboratory analysis or confirmation. In addition, it is easy to operate without needing medical personnel to conduct the test. However, proper training is necessary to get accurate and reliable BAC results.
Drug test for alcohol during employment helps ensure safety and stability in the workplace. It is a standard practice in industries where safety is a top priority. It aims to monitor current impairments or substance abuse to help reduce or prevent accidents and injuries. Additionally, companies conduct these tests through a comprehensive policy to mitigate legal liabilities. Therefore, it helps protect the well-being of employees and ultimately leads to improved productivity.
Employers may implement these tests in various situations. It is common during pre-employment to help hire a candidate without risky behaviours. Moreover, it is crucial after an accident or if an individual shows signs of impairment. Random testing can also help identify employees struggling with addition. Furthermore, several test methods are available, including urine, oral fluid, and breath testing. Among these procedures, a breathalyser test is the most convenient and gives rapid results within seconds.