Alcohol use is responsible for five per cent of all Australian workplace deaths and up to 11 per cent of non-fatal injuries. In addition, the misuse of alcohol costs Australian businesses billions of dollars every year, through lost productivity and employee absenteeism.
If you own or manage a workplace, you can’t afford to turn a blind eye to the effects of alcohol in your workplace. Implementing workplace alcohol testing, as part of a robust drugs and alcohol policy, is a must to protect your business and improve the safety of your employees.
Implementing an effective workplace alcohol testing program
Integrity Sampling can help you implement and manage a workplace alcohol testing program. If you don’t run a 9 to 5 business or have workers on the road or off-site, we can also support you. Our experienced technicians are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year and can conduct testing anywhere that’s required.
Our accredited technicians use only the most modern, accurate and effective equipment available. We can provide virtually instant workplace alcohol testing results, to give you peace of mind that your employees are safe to be at work.
If you’re interested in finding out more about workplace alcohol testing, contact Integrity Sampling for a confidential discussion.
Integrity Sampling can help
Number of drug, alcohol and COVID tests conducted by Integrity Sampling each year
Integrity Sampling locations throughout Australia
How is workplace alcohol testing conducted?
Conducting workplace alcohol testing is much the same as roadside alcohol testing.
It involves the use of an alcohol breathalyser. A mouthpiece is inserted into the breathalyser and the person being tested blows into the mouthpiece. The result – the blood alcohol concentration of the person – is displayed on the breathalyser unit.
The whole process is very quick. A new mouthpiece is inserted into the breathalyser and the next person is tested.
What equipment is used to conduct workplace alcohol testing?
Alcohol testing requires a breathalyser to determine a person’s blood alcohol concentration. But not all breathalysers are the same.
Cheaper breathalysers – semiconductor alcohol testing devices that use electric current to estimate blood alcohol level – can be purchased. However, these devices shouldn’t be used for workplace alcohol testing as they are generally inaccurate.
Police forces and reputable workplace alcohol testing providers use fuel cell breathalysers. These are far more accurate than semiconductor breathalysers.
With our exclusive partnership with Dräger, Integrity Sampling uses their breathalysers for all workplace alcohol testing. Specifically, we use the Alcotest 6000, a professional breathalyser that makes workplace alcohol testing quick, easy, convenient and accurate.
Note: No breathalyser is 100% accurate, which is why further testing and analysis is necessary to determine if a person is over the blood alcohol limit.
What does blood alcohol level mean?
Blood alcohol concentration or BAC is a measure of how much alcohol is in the bloodstream. 0.05 is 0.05g of alcohol in every 100ml of blood.
0.05 BAC is the legal limit in most states and territories in Australia, but that’s not the limit for everyone. On the roadside, for example, learners, probationary licence holders, bus drivers, taxi drivers and others generally have a 0.00 legal limit.
Each workplace will have its own rules around BAC, however, like on roadsides in general the 0.05 BAC still applies. However, some workplaces and some work roles require their people to turn up to work at 0.00 because of the inherit safety risks of their jobs. Pilots, truck drivers and explosive handlers are good examples of roles where a zero BAC is generally required.
What consequences do people face for failing workplace alcohol testing?
If you fail roadside alcohol testing you will face the consequences set out by the state or territory where you are driving. However, for workplaces the consequences for failing alcohol testing will depend on the drug and alcohol policy of the individual business.
For high risk roles and workplaces there may be a zero tolerance policy and a failure could result in the person being dismissed. However, in most workplaces dismissal for a first offence is unlikely. A person who fails alcohol testing is like to receive a caution, receive extra education, or get support.
What happens to people who refuse alcohol testing?
Whether its roadside alcohol testing or testing carried out in the workplace, a person can’t be forced to blow into a breathalyser. It’s everyone’s right to refuse alcohol testing.
However, there are consequences. On the roadside, the consequences for refusal will be set out by each state and territory. In workplaces, it will be detailed in the drug and alcohol policy.
Generally, the consequences for refusal are more severe than if a person takes the test and fails. That’s why the general advice is not to refuse alcohol testing.
How long does alcohol stay in the system?
Determining how long alcohol can stay in the system can be complex as there are many factors that need for be considered. For example:
- The sex of the person.
- The person’s weight.
- Other individual factors.
- Whether the person has eaten recently.
It can also be difficult to determine exactly how much alcohol is consumed.
A standard drink contains around 10 grams of alcohol. If you’re drinking from a can or bottle, the label will show you how many standard drinks it contains. However, hotels, restaurants and other licensed venues won’t always serve alcohol in standard size glasses. A glass of wine can be anywhere from 1 to 2 standard drinks and sometimes even more.
DrinkWise has a calculator that can be used as a guide to determine standard drink amounts.
As a general guide:
- One standard drink per hour will raise the BAC by approximately 0.01 to 0.03.
- The body will generally metabolise 0.01 BAC, or one standard drink, per hour.
There are online blood alcohol concentration calculators you can use to help determine BAC over a given period. However, these calculators should only be used as a rough guide and never be relied upon to determine if it is safe to drive or go to work.
Can alcohol metabolism be sped up?
There is only one thing that can reduce a person’s blood alcohol concentration after consuming alcohol and that’s time.
There are many urban myths of ways to speed up the processing of alcohol in the body. Sleeping, cold showers, drinking water or coffee, fresh air and exercise for example. However, none of these things will work. Time is the only answer.
Do bodies build a tolerance to alcohol?
It is true that people can build a tolerance to alcohol. A person who drinks a lot may be able to drink larger quantities than a person who doesn’t, without feeling or appearing intoxicated.
However, how a person feels or appears isn’t a good guide to alcohol concentration. A person may feel or appear perfectly normal after 2 or 3 drinks, but that doesn’t mean their blood alcohol concentration will be below the legal limit. And it doesn’t mean they’re not affected by alcohol. Side effects – such as slower reflexes and reactions, poor judgement, reduced coordination and impaired vision – may still be present.
Choose workplace alcohol testing to improve safety in your workplace
Why should you implement a rigorous alcohol testing program in your workplace? While safety is the main benefit, a drug and alcohol testing program can also benefit productivity, absenteeism and other areas of your business.
At Integrity Sampling, we understand the importance of safeguarding your workplace and maintaining compliance with industry standards.
Drug and alcohol testing methodology
Testing is conducted before employment or prior to a promotion.
Cause testing is used when an employee’s fitness for work is questioned.
Testing is undertaken following an incident, accident or near miss.
Random drug and alcohol testing is implemented on any given day or time.