Alcohol Screening Keeps Staff and Companies Safe

Alcohol screening is one of the aspects for employment safety.

Up to 40% of all industrial fatalities are related to alcoholism or alcohol abuse. People who abuse alcohol are between 3.8 and 8.3 times more likely to be absent from work, and when they are at work, they are up to 33% less productive than their peers.

With these statistics, it’s no surprise that more employers are choosing to make alcohol screening of employees part of their workplace HR and OHSA programs. Physicians Now offers fast, confidential and reliable alcohol testing for all your employees and management.

Call (301) 519-0902 now for more information about alcohol screening for staff and companies

Breathalyzer Testing Is Not Acceptable

In October of 2013, a court in Maryland ruled that employer breathalyzer testing of employees was not acceptable. The employer’s testing provider was charged with invasion of privacy and fraud, and while the charges were ultimately dismissed, the court upheld that breathalyzer testing is not a legally compliant alcohol testing method.

In fact, the only state in the US that does accept breathalyzer testing for alcohol is Minnesota.

Alcohol Testing Compliance

In order for an alcohol screening to be valid and actionable in Maryland, there are several requirements that must be met:

  • The specimen must be blood, urine, hair or saliva.
  • The specimen must be tested by a licensed laboratory.
  • If the employee requests the name and address of the laboratory conducting the test, it must be provided.
  • Employers are required to have a written drug and alcohol policy that includes details of disciplinary actions if applicable.
  • If a test is positive, the test subject must receive their results either in person or by certified mail within 30 days of testing.
  • The employee has the right to request that the specimen be retested at their own expense.
  • Preliminary testing based on suspicion by the employer is allowed, as long as the specimen (if positive during preliminary testing) is sent to a registered laboratory for confirmation.

In order for alcohol test results to be a factor in discipline or dismissal, it is always advisable to use a registered, certified medical laboratory and testing facility.

When Is Alcohol Screening Recommended

Alcohol screening may be required for a number of reasons, both for legal compliance and on a per employer basis. Some of the more common reasons are:

  • Regular scheduled testing of employees who work in dangerous positions, such as equipment operators. Some industrial sites require that any subcontractors or vendors working on site also have their employees tested.
  • Suspicion of intoxication on site. If an employer suspects that an employee is intoxicated at work, alcohol testing is required if action will be taken.
  • If certifications or licensing is required. For instance certain types of commercial vehicle permits require alcohol testing.
  • Given the prevalence of substance abuse, there are employers that maintain a regular drug and alcohol testing process as a preventive measure.
  • When there is a medical concern, for instance confusion or becoming comatose. When testing is done for these reasons, it’s often as a diagnostic tool.

How Alcohol Tests Work

The most common methods of screening for alcohol are in the blood and in the urine.

Blood alcohol testing is most effective shortly after a person has stopped drinking alcohol. It measures the proportion of ethanol in the blood, which typically peaks about an hour after the person has their last drink, and then declines steadily when the person urinates, sweats and breathes. A consent form is usually required to draw blood for alcohol testing, but there are legal implications to refusing to sign the consent form.

Urine testing for alcohol measures Ethyl Glucuronide (EtG), which is an alcohol metabolite. This means that it is a waste product that is created from alcohol and excreted in the urine.

Unlike blood testing, which needs to be conducted fairly soon after consuming alcohol, urine testing can detect positive results up to 3 or 4 days later, which makes it an ideal solution for zero tolerance situations. Care does need to be taken to ensure that the sample provided is from the test subject.

Fast, Reliable Alcohol Testing

Since alcohol in the workplace can present safety and health problems that can affect the entire workplace, it’s no surprise that alcohol screening is becoming an accepted standard in many work situations. Physicians Now offers a fast, accurate and reliable alcohol screening program, with certified, legally admissible results.