Workplace alcohol testing a sure bet

A NSW jockey has found out the hard way that alcohol testing can catch you at the track as well as on the road. Credit Philippe Oursel

A NSW jockey has found out the hard way that alcohol testing can’t just catch you out on the roads.

The country-based jockey was riding at the New South Wales regional town of Dubbo on a Saturday in May. According to racenet, he failed alcohol testing before he had any rides. The exact reading wasn’t provided. Stewards simply said, “A reading in excess of the concentration of alcohol permitted under the Rules of Racing”.

The jockey was stood down prior to any of his rides at the meeting. NSW stewards interviewed the jockey regarding his alcohol consumption on the previous night.

Subsequently, the jockey pleaded guilty to a banned substance offence. He was handed down a three month suspension, reduced to two months due to the jockey’s guilty plea and his remorse.

Workplace alcohol testing is a safety issue

Most of us know and understand that it’s wrong to drink and drive, because of the safety implications, so the negative findings for the jockey aren’t a surprise. Taking control of an animal weighing around a half a tonne requires all the skills, judgement, coordination, reflexes and concentration required to drive a car – arguably more – so to do so after drinking is simply dangerous.

While many of us love watching horse racing and having a bet, for the jockeys and those that look after the horses it’s a job. And when they step into their workplace they should never be under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. It’s simply unsafe for them and those around them, including the horses.

Support is key after positive alcohol testing results

One thing that is different with the racing industry than most other workplaces is the consequences of a positive alcohol test. For the NSW jockey highlighted in this article, his failed alcohol testing result led to a suspension. For most people, the consequences wouldn’t be as significant, particularly not for a first offence.

In most workplaces, a first-time offence for failing alcohol testing would result in a caution, further education about the dangers of turning up to work under the influence and possibly support.

Providing support and further education is a smart initiative for employees who are having issues with alcohol or drug use. It’s also smart for employers. Providing this support can help retain good employees and get them back on track.

Larger businesses often offer in-house support, while for smaller and medium-sized businesses support can be offered through external organisations such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Lifeline and general practitioners.

Note: It should be highlighted that there are some workplaces where zero tolerance for alcohol and drugs apply. These can include jobs within the aviation and transportation industries for example. In these cases, if you’re caught with alcohol or drugs in your system a dismissal generally applies. Harsh, but when you consider the safety implications, many would argue it’s fair.


A NSW jockey has found out the hard way that alcohol testing can catch you at the track as well as on the road. Credit Philippe Oursel

By Michael

Michael is the founder of Integrity Sampling and is responsible for overseeing all national operations. He is based at Integrity Sampling's head office in Melbourne and is also responsible for the co-ordination of drug and alcohol testing within Victoria, assisting in the implementation of drug and alcohol (fit for work) policies and the presentation of drug and alcohol education and awareness programs. You can connect with Michael Wheeldon on LinkedIn

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