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Hair Follicle Test for Alcohol and Drugs: Are They Accurate?

28 March, 2022

Workplace and alcohol testing is now expected across all industries. Employers nowadays aim to reduce and prevent workplace accidents. Alcohol and drug consumption can cause several impairments. These impairments can drastically affect an employee’s ability to work effectively and safely. Substance use can cause coordination problems, memory loss, judgement impairments, and slower reaction times. An employee within the workplace with these impairments can drastically affect workplace safety, mainly when operating heavy machinery. Furthermore, substance-impaired employees will most likely have reduced productivity and increased absenteeism. These impairments and the dangers they pose are why employers perform constant workplace alcohol and drug testing. A random or scheduled hair follicle test for alcohol and drugs can help employers know who among their workforce is under the influence during working hours. Moreover, singling out potentially dangerous employees can drastically help reduce workplace hazards.

Using a hair follicle test for alcohol and drugs and other forms of testing can ascertain employers of workplace safety. Without a doubt, these tests can help decrease the likelihood of workplace accidents. Having fewer accidents in the workplace can help reduce a company’s annual costs. Moreover, fewer accidents can help the company minimise healthcare and accident compensation costs. Furthermore, these tests can ensure high productivity and decrease the likelihood of damaged products and machinery. Spending a little extra on devices like the BACtrack workplace breathalyser from Breathalysers New Zealand and hiring drug testing services can make a reasonable investment.

Hair Follicle Test for Alcohol and Drugs: Other Tests available

Employers need to be well informed when performing a hair follicle test for alcohol and drugs in the workplace. Firstly, employers need to follow a set of guidelines when providing tests. Secondly, the employer must make sure they have consent for testing. Lastly, it is also crucial for employers to know the alcohol and drug tests available. Furthermore, this information can help employers decide what kind of test they should perform in their workplaces. Aside from a hair follicle test for alcohol and drugs, employers can also use:

  • Breath Alcohol tests (with BACtrack workplace breathalysers)
  • Urine Tests (for alcohol and drugs)
  • Blood tests (for alcohol and drugs)
  • Saliva tests (for alcohol and drugs)
  • Sweat tests (for alcohol and drugs)

The most common among these tests are Breath tests for alcohol testing and urine tests for drug usage. Breath and urine tests are the most common because they are highly reliable and easy to perform. Breath alcohol tests can help determine an employee’s exact Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). Moreover, urine tests are similar to a hair follicle test for alcohol and drugs. Urine and hair tests can determine usage but cannot specify the drugs used and when they were used. Employers can rely on hair follicle tests to test for workplace usage. However, it is essential to know that false positives are more likely to happen during a hair follicle test than urine tests.

hair-follicle-tests-for-alcohol-and-drugs

Hair Follicle Test for Alcohol and Drugs: Accuracy and Procedures

Since a hair follicle test for alcohol and drugs can only detect usage, there are other procedures needed after it. If there is a positive hair follicle test, employers may be required to follow up with a GC-MS test. The GC-MS test can detect the exact drug used and help detect false positives. Employers can rely on a hair follicle test to determine workplace usage. However, there is always a chance for false-positive and false-negative results, making retests more common. Nowadays, employers mainly use alcohol breath tests to test for alcohol usage. Devices like the BACtrack workplace breathalyser from Breathalysers New Zealand allow accurate workplace testing. Breath tests can be more accurate because they can determine the exact BAC of an employee. Moreover, even though urine tests may also need a GC-MS test to follow up, false-positives tests are less likely.

Hair Follicle Test for Alcohol and Drugs: Guidelines

For employers to legally perform a hair follicle test for alcohol and drugs, they must adhere to specific guidelines. The law requires companies to have a workplace policy set and agreed upon by both employers and employees. Furthermore, there must be a formal agreement with the employee giving the employer consent to perform drug and alcohol tests. There are specific guidelines within these workplace policies as to when an employer may provide an alcohol or drug test. Moreover, these guidelines ensure that workplace testing remains fair. These guidelines also help protect the employee’s privacy. Additionally, these guidelines also state what can happen to an employee if they test positive. In most cases, employees get a second chance and can opt for a retest. Immediate termination may not always be the case; employers can also provide employees with a rehabilitation option that allows them to return to work once approved.

When Can an Employer Provide Tests?

Employers should follow a set of guidelines when trying to provide a hair follicle test for alcohol and drugs. These guidelines also include when they can provide testing. The situation wherein employers can test their employees are:

  • Pre-employment testing: Companies test applicants before they hire them. This form of testing can prevent hiring potentially dangerous employees.
  • Blanket testing: A procedure that tests all the employees in the company.
  • Post-accident/incident testing: A test provided to check if alcohol or drugs were involved in a specific workplace accident. This form of testing can help the company decide the next course of action after an accident.
  • Random testing: An unannounced test and can be at any time. This form of testing can help catch employees trying to hide their usage.
  • Post-positive testing: A test required for employees returning to work after positive testing. This test can help ensure that the returning employees are fit to work.

hair-follicle-test-for-alcohol-and-drug

More Frequent Alcohol Tests

Nowadays, companies can perform breath tests more often with the help of devices like the BACtrack workplace breathalyser. The BACtrack breathalyser from Breathalysers New Zealand is a highly reliable and portable device. Its portability can allow tests in almost any situation. Performing more breath tests can help employers ensure that their employees are fit to work. Moreover, safety-critical industries like mining, construction, and transportation can benefit significantly from more frequent tests. A hair follicle test for alcohol and drugs and other forms of testing can help ensure that no employees are working under the influence.

Why use BACtrack devices?

The BACtrack devices from Breathalysers New Zealand are quick, easy to use, and highly accurate. It only takes 10 to 15 seconds for a BACtrack device to process your BAC. Moreover, BACtrack devices have one-button operations, allowing users to begin their alcohol breath test with just a push of a button. BACtrack workplace breathalysers use fuel cell sensors. These are the same sensors you would find in a police officer’s breathalyser. These sensors are also only sensitive to ethyl alcohol, reducing the likelihood of false-positive results. A hair follicle test for alcohol and drugs is no longer the only option for effective workplace testing.

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