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Guidelines for Workplace Drug Testing in NZ

15 December, 2022

Every day, companies face several challenges to keep the business going smoothly and productively. It includes producing high output, ensuring safety, and retaining employees. Workplaces, especially in high-risk industries, must provide employees with a secure and healthy environment. Therefore, employers ensure that all factors that can affect safety or cause harm are minimised or prevented. One of the occupational hazards is drug and alcohol use. Unfortunately, employee impairment is one of the reasons for accidents, serious injuries, or fatalities in New Zealand workplaces every year. Thus, a comprehensive workplace policy guides employers and staff on the standard safety procedures. An essential aspect of the program is conducting workplace drug testing in NZ. 

Many companies implement workplace drug testing in NZ to help control the high cases of substance-related incidents. It is a preventive measure that helps employers manage risks associated with illegal drugs and alcohol. It involves undergoing test procedures to determine if employees work under the influence of impairing substances. Therefore, employing the most reliable method and devices is essential for securing accurate results. Equipment like breathalysers helps workplaces maintain an alcohol-free environment. Breathalysers New Zealand provides dependable devices through the BACtrack police-grade breathalysers for workplace use. An on-hand breathalyser enables companies to conduct frequent alcohol testing and monitor employees’ sobriety. 

Effects of Drug and Alcohol Impairment

Drugs and alcohol use have detrimental effects on the body. Illegal drugs are substances that can alter a person’s mental and physical functions. Some people take alcohol or drugs to cope with stress or fatigue. However, any amount taken can lead to adverse health issues, like seizures, heart attack, coma, and other permanent damage. Meanwhile, although alcohol is legal, its consumption is regulated. For example, a person must not drink and drive simultaneously. Similarly, workplaces prohibit alcohol use due to its intoxicating effects. High alcohol consumption impairs senses, perception, reaction time and motor functions. As a result, it reduces a person’s ability to concentrate and coordinate movements. For this case, we define workplace drug testing in NZ to include alcohol and commonly abused drugs. 

Substance impairment can lead to wrong judgment or errors, especially when operating machinery. Impaired employees pose safety risks not only to themselves but to their colleagues or the public. Therefore, companies include workplace drug testing in NZ as a safety measure. Moreover, workplace testing is designed to detect employees that may compromise safety and pull them out before incidents occur. Furthermore, drug and alcohol impairment has the following impacts:

  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating
  • Unable to complete tasks on time
  • Increased absenteeism or tardiness
  • Risks of dependency or substance abuse
  • Conflicts with co-workers

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Workplace Drug Testing in NZ: Health and Safety Duties

The effects of drug and alcohol use are more than the potential dangers in the workplace. Frequent accidents without action can affect long-term productivity, hinders growth, and damage reputation. Thus, many companies adopt a policy or program to enable workplace drug testing in NZ. Accordingly, employers adhere to the Health and Safety Work Act, covering the duties of employers and employees to manage occupational risks. Under the HSW Act, employers must minimise all preventable hazards that may lead to serious injuries and harm employees. It includes safe handling of equipment and structures, adequate training and supervision, and monitoring of workers’ health and workplace conditions. Employees must also abide by regulations as stated in the policy. Additionally, they must take reasonable care to ensure their health and safety and of others at work.

Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy Guide

Not all businesses in New Zealand are required to test their employees. However, drug and alcohol tests for employment have been increasing due to the need for safer workplaces. Before a company can facilitate workplace drug testing in NZ, it must establish a comprehensive program first. It defines an employer’s rules for risk management, including the use of alcohol and drugs, through a written statement. Setting clear policies is an excellent starting point to maintaining a hazard-free workplace. Moreover, all employees must know and agree to the conditions of the policy. In addition, a workplace drug and alcohol policy must consider the following aspects:

  • Objectives for facilitating drug and alcohol tests
  • Conditions or reasons for the test
  • Who are subject to undergo testing
  • The test methods to be employed
  • The course of action for a positive test result
  • Documentation procedures

The workplace policy must also be:

  • In line with the employment agreement
  • Consistent with state or federal laws
  • Respective of employees’ rights

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Conditions for Workplace Drug Testing in NZ

The workplace policy must cover everything from execution to the handling of test results. It is also critical to obtain the employees’ consent for implementation. An employer may ask the workers to sign a written consent form agreeing that they understood the reason for testing and submit to the test procedure. Moreover, the employer may administer workplace drug testing in NZ for safety reasons only. The conditions for workplace drug and alcohol tests are:

  • Pre-employment – employers can require drug and alcohol tests during hiring if the job is a safety-sensitive role. Pre-employment tests help companies determine if the job applicant has high-risk behaviour that may endanger the workplace.
  • Post-incident – this test is common after an accident or near-miss. It helps identify the main cause of the accident. In addition, it should be done within a time limit.
  • Blanket – screening the entire workforce for drugs and alcohol, regardless of position or role.
  • Random – it is an unannounced test aimed at detecting current impairment among employees. Also, workers have an equal chance of being selected through a random selection process.
  • For-cause – this test is only permitted where reasonable suspicion exists. For example, an employee displays symptoms of intoxication affecting task performance or compromising safety. An authorised officer must support the test with evidence to avoid legal problems. 
  • Return-to-duty – employees returning from a leave of absence or rehabilitation must pass a drug and alcohol test to show fitness for work. 

Workplace Drug Testing in NZ: On-site or Off-site Testing

Drug and alcohol testing requires a careful process, including handling and testing the specimen to get accurate results. Workplace drug testing in NZ commonly employs on-site or laboratory procedures to monitor the employees’ physical conditions. An on-site or mobile test involves performing the test on the work site. The collection and screening process takes place at a nearby secured location, and the results are determined shortly. Testing devices like a workplace breathalyser like BACtrack from Breathalysers New Zealand help identify a person’s recent alcohol use. Meanwhile, off-site testing involves workers going to a laboratory or a collection site. However, it means reduced work hours due to travel time, and the results may take several days. Therefore, employers evaluate the best approach to use.

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Types of Test Methods for Workplace Drug Testing in NZ

A drug and alcohol test is the technical analysis of a person’s biological sample to detect illicit substances and alcohol or their metabolites. Prohibited drugs include but are not limited to methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, opiates, and heroin. When drugs and alcohol are ingested, they enter vital organs through the bloodstream, where they stay for definite periods. Thus, various procedures of workplace drug testing in NZ can detect substances through the following:

  • Urine – the standard method for workplace testing. A urine test can trace drugs and alcohol for 12 to 24 hours.
  • Saliva or oral fluid – saliva detects drug and alcohol use within 6 to 12 hours. Thus, the short detection window is ideal for identifying recent use. The sample is taken by swabbing the insides of the mouth with a collection stick or pad. 
  • Blood – this test accurately detects drugs and alcohol as it directly analyses the compounds in the blood. It has a detection window of 6 to 12 hours. However, it is costly and invasive. Therefore, they are used to confirm and validate a preliminary test result.
  • Hair – hair follicle test can detect drugs for up to 90 days. The long detection period is ideal for determining a person’s substance use history.
  • Breath – unlike other methods, a breath test can only detect alcohol. A breathalyser device analyses the breath sample and measures the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level. In addition, breathalysers can detect alcohol for up to 24 hours, depending on the amount of intake.

Workplace Drug Testing in NZ: Best Methods

Employers may avail of various options for workplace drug testing in NZ that best serve their safety needs or requirements. However, many workplaces utilise urine tests for drugs and breath tests for alcohol screening. This is because a urine test is less invasive than a blood test, and collecting the sample is easy. Recently, more workplaces have also used saliva tests as a cost-efficient alternative to urine. Moreover, companies can purchase drug testing kits that are easy to administer at work. Test kits can process the sample and show the drug results in five minutes. Meanwhile, a breath test using a breathalyser is the most practical yet effective method to monitor employees’ sobriety. 

breath test with a breathalyser is a non-invasive procedure of workplace drug testing in NZ for alcohol. Companies use professional-grade devices like the BACtrack from Breathalysers New Zealand, to accurately measure the BAC. It is a compact and portable device utilising sensor technology to calculate alcohol concentration. Furthermore, workplace breathalysers use advanced fuel cell sensors sensitive to ethanol and do not react with other substances. The device oxidises alcohol in the breath to produce small electrical currents. The strength of the currents is converted into BAC values. Therefore, a breathalyser is a reliable device that can determine employees’ intoxication levels in real-time. 

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Factors Affecting the Blood Alcohol Content

Alcohol is a volatile substance that quickly passes from the stomach to the lungs through the bloodstream. Within minutes, a person may feel intoxicated. Additionally, alcohol in the lungs vaporises and exits the body through exhalation. However, the period of how long alcohol stays in the system depends on the intake amount. The more alcohol is consumed, the longer it takes for the body to metabolise it. Therefore, employees drinking after work hours may still be impaired the next day. For this reason, companies facilitate workplace drug testing in NZ to minimise the negative consequences of substance use. Moreover, a person’s BAC level or intoxication degree depends on many factors. The factors that influence the BAC are:

  • Age
  • Body type (weight, fat content)
  • Gender
  • Food intake
  • Hydration level
  • Metabolism rate
  • Alcohol tolerance
  • Medicines
  • Beverage type and alcohol content in the drink
  • Tolerance level

Workplace Breathalysers from Breathalysers New Zealand

Substance-related accidents can occur at any time without proper monitoring. Impaired employees pose safety risks to the workplace, regardless of drug or alcohol concentration. Workplace drug testing in NZ aims to monitor the workforce and ensure that the work environment is hazard-free at all times. Companies use professional-grade devices like the BACtrack breathalysers from Breathalysers New Zealand to accurately measure the BAC. Moreover, Breathalysers NZ offers robust alcohol testers ideal for workplace use. You may check the various workplace breathalysers which suit your testing needs:

  • BACtrack S80 Pro Gen2 – features industrial-grade fuel cell sensors with enhanced linear accuracy that can trace alcohol across a wide BAC range. It is specially engineered to meet the rigorous requirements of workplaces. Additionally, companies may program the settings like blow strength and blow time to enhance the accuracy.
  • BACtrack Mobile Gen2 – a breathalyser with smartphone connectivity through Bluetooth. The Mobile Gen2 pairs with a smartphone app to deliver the BAC results directly to an iOS or Android device. It is ideal for remote alcohol monitoring, especially for employees working off-site like transportation drivers. 
  • Alcovisor Mercury – this breathalyser features passive screening and testing modes. You may use the Alcovisor Mercury to detect alcohol presence or test the BAC simply. 
  • Alcovisor Alcotorch – the Alcotorch is a passive alcohol breath tester. It is suitable for people entering a wide venue, like concert halls, airports, or restricted facilities. 

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Features and Reliability of the BACtrack Workplace Breathalysers

Workplace drug testing in NZ follows regulatory guidelines to get accurate and valid test results. Therefore, the test methods and devices must be certified. In particular, the workplace breathalysers at Breathalysers New Zealand are FDA-approved and have AS/NZ 3547 certification. Therefore, they meet the standards of an effective breath screening device. Moreover, breathalysers must be periodically recalibrated to maintain the sensors’ accuracy. Companies may also purchase additional mouthpieces to facilitate breath tests without compromising the BAC results. Breathalysers NZ provides complete recalibration and after-sales services for units sold on the website and accredited partners. 

The BACtrack workplace breathalysers provide a fast and convenient method for alcohol screening. The BACtrack devices at Breathalysers New Zealand, have a one-touch button to enable quick operation. To use the breathalyser, simply press the power button and wait for the sensors to warm up. Once ready, you may give a breath sample by blowing sufficiently to the mouthpiece. The BACtrack breathalysers process the sample and deliver the results in 10 to 15 seconds. Lastly, it has an optimal breath capture that collects the precise air sample. The internal breath pump of BACtrack ensures that only deep lung air goes through the sensors and keeps out ambient air or fumes. Therefore, companies conducting workplace drug testing in NZ can benefit from the reliability, accuracy, and efficiency that BACtrack can bring.

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Benefits of Workplace Drug Testing

Employers enhance workplace safety by securing a comprehensive policy and utilising efficient test methods and devices. Without a doubt, companies adopting workplace drug testing in NZ reportedly have lower incident rates and improved productivity. Consistent monitoring of employees’ physical conditions also has the following benefits:

  • Stable workforce – workplace testing promote healthy and safe practices in and outside work. Few accidents mean less downtime, better attendance, and low turnover rates. In addition, it boosts employee morale and improves company integrity. 
  • High output – employees perform better under safe working conditions. As a result, they meet complete tasks on time and have fewer errors.
  • Reduced legal liabilities – companies mitigate legal risks by implementing workplace testing through a drug and alcohol policy. Employers must ensure to follow the guidelines stipulated in the policy to avoid legal problems and manage risks. 
  • Lower cost – industries spend billions every year to cover hospitalisation, insurance, and compensation costs brought by substance-related accidents. Accidents also damage expensive heavy equipment or machinery, which needs repair or replacement. Moreover, training new employees due to high turnover can be costly. 
  • Assist employees with drug or alcohol use disorder – drug and alcohol tests help determine employees who are coping with substance abuse. Employers may assist affected workers through referral to a rehabilitation facility or the Employee Assistance Program. 

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Alcohol and Drug Testing in NZ: Personal Devices

Alcohol consumption is a regular pastime activity of many people after work. However, excessive intake leads to severe impairments with drastic consequences. Individuals who consume alcohol may use devices like a personal breathalyser to help monitor their alcohol levels. Besides workplace devices, Breathalysers New Zealand has a comprehensive range of alcohol testers for personal use. Most personal BACtrack breathalysers utilise fuel cell sensors for high accuracy and effective alcohol breath tests. The BACtrack personal breathalysers are police-grade, the same technology used by police officers in roadside screening. Employees can use a breathalyser to monitor their BAC level and avoid exceeding the legal limit. In New Zealand, the alcohol limit for driving is 0.05% BAC. Exceeding the limit in a roadside breath test is liable for criminal charges and penalties. Lastly, it helps employees avoid disciplinary actions for failing workplace drug testing in NZ. 

BACtrack Personal Breathalysers

Organisations and individuals can help improve personal and public safety through breathalyser devices and workplace drug testing in NZ. Breathalysers New Zealand offers various personal alcohol testers to help employees monitor their BAC. You may purchase a personal breathalyser with pro-grade accuracy to get the most accurate results. Additionally, each device has distinct features suiting various needs and preferences. Breathalysers NZ offers the following devices:

  • Keychain breathalyser – the BACtrack Go and C6 keychains are the lightest alcohol testers. They are compact devices suitable for quick alcohol screening.
  • Smartphone breathalyser – the BACtrack C6 and C8 breathalysers have optional Bluetooth connectivity. The dual-mode operation allows you to operate the device alone or connect it to your smartphone. Meanwhile, the BACtrack Mobile Pro has innovative tracking and Apple Health and Uber integration. Furthermore, the BACtrack smartphone breathalysers feature the ZeroLine technology, which can quickly estimate how long the BAC will return to 0.00%. 
  • Professional – the BACtrack Pro is the sophisticated line of Breathalysers NZ for personal use. The BACtrack Trace Pro, Trace Pro Gen2, Scout, Mobile Pro, and S80 Pro utilise the Xtend fuel cell sensor technology. The fuel cell breathalysers can accurately measure the BAC from 0.000 to 0.400%. 

Operating a personal breathalyser is similar to the professional device used in workplace drug testing in NZ. To ensure accurate results, wait at least fifteen minutes after eating, drinking, or smoking before taking a breath test. The waiting period ensures that a breathalyser captures the precise sample breath. 

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Conclusion

Unfortunately, drug and alcohol use is prevalent in many sectors nationwide. Workplace drug testing in NZ help many industries manage occupational hazards through reliable and cost-effective measures. Consistent workplace testing deters substance use and abuse, promotes safe practices, and reduces accidents. Moreover, high-risk workplaces rely on the accuracy of the test methods and devices to keep the working environment hazard-free. Furthermore, the workplace policy enables employers to administer drug and alcohol tests, avoiding legal risks. 

Breathalysers New Zealand provides dependable devices across many workplace drug testing in NZ. The BACtrack workplace breathalysers have one of the largest fuel cell sensors to precisely measure the BAC. It helps employers monitor the employees’ sobriety, especially in workplaces with zero-tolerance policies. Therefore, even if an employee has a small alcohol content, the BACtrack breathalyser can identify the impairment. Employers can choose the appropriate pro-grade device at Breathalysers NZ for workplace needs. Likewise, individuals may purchase the BACtrack personal breathalysers to help moderate alcohol consumption, avoid drink driving charges, and pass workplace drug testing in NZ. 

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