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UK's Drug & Alcohol Safety Experts

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Company Testing and Public Use - an Overview

Legislation requires that companies "take all reasonable steps" to ensure their employees are fit to work.  You know that they don't drink at work....

but how do you know they are safe the morning after?

With the increasing emphasis on a company's responsibility to ensure it's employees are fit for work many are turning to Digital Breathalyzers to screen key employees prior to their starting work.  Companies operating under the Railways and Transport Bill (ie. Airlines, Airport Handling companies, Rail Operators, Maritime Companies etc) have a particular interest as many of their employees are covered by the particularly strict limits of the act but there are many other businesses, not least Road Transport, who have a responsibility to their customers and the general public to ensure that no one operating their vehicles or machinery does so under the influence of alcohol.

Duty of Care
All employers have a duty of care to their employees to ensure the adhere to best practice and use equipment suitable for the purpose; the same applies to enforcing a Drugs & Alcohol Policy. It is unreasonable to subject employees to a testing procedure utilising a detector designed only for personal use.  Professional Breathalyzers are specifically designed for accurate results time after time - with a set sample size and fuel cell metering for consistent, reliable results.

Which units are suitable?
For public testing purposes - whether in a company or other environment - we strongly recommend the UK Home Office approved Draeger 5510.  In the long run the additional build quality, accuracy and certification will pay for itself. It has been designed and built to withstand daily use by Police forces all over the world and its Fuel Cell technology is far more consistent and accurate than the semi-conductor sensors found in less expensive models. The Draeger 6510 is even approved in the US for direct EVIDENTIAL (EBT) use in court (as opposed to US DOT-approved Alcohol Screening Devices (ASD's) where the approval does NOT check the accuracy of the unit - only whether it is able to detect alcohol or not) Sampling methods vary considerably (see our FAQ for details) and consistent results are often difficult to achieve.

Alternatives to the Approved Devices
The only non-approved breathalyzer on the UK market built to a "professional" specification is the AlcoDigital 3000. This is based on the Draeger 6510, which in certain circumstances may suffice if you are certain you will not need evidential-level results but we cannot recommend any other device for anything other than use as a pre-screen prior to blood test or testing using an approved device. Please bear in mind the comments made above (under the heading "False Positives") should you decide to purchase a device that does not have UK approval; the limitations and potential costs of such a testers can be high.

False Positives - the cost to your business.
It is vital that both employer and employee have confidence in the accuracy and reliability of the breathalyzer if your Alcohol policy is going to be effective. When screening employees it must be appreciated that considerable stress and anxiety can be caused to the employee should they "fail" a test.  The problem with "consumer" semi-conductor based breathalyzers is that they are more likely to produce false positives than a professional Fuel Cell device such as the Draeger.  For personal use, this can actually be beneficial -  it is far better that someone believes themselves to be over the limit, and as a result reduces their drinking in future and at the time does not take risks unnecessarily, than to give a false impression that the user is less intoxicated than they are. 

But the cost to your business from a false-positive can be substantial. An employee sent home, a vehicle now with no driver, delayed shipments, disciplinary proceedings - and all because your Breathalyzer wasn't accurate enough.  Clearly there is a duty of care to the employees to use equipment that is fit for purpose and to introduce testing with a breathalyzer that is not suitable for the job is unfair to the employee and possibly costly for the business. There is also the very real possibility that should an employee be tested with a non-approved breath tester and action taken, they could well have a case for suing the employer for causing unreasonable emotional stress by using a breath tester that was not fit for the purpose and that did not have UK approval.

Printouts & Data Connectivity
We can also supply the Draeger 6820 and Draeger 7510 - complete "in a briefcase" solutions that provides a printout of each test which can then be used at later disciplinary or tribunal hearings.  The 6820 Data can store basic, pre-formatted data (date, time, result) whereas the 7510 can store totally flexible data, entered either via the keypad or using a QUERTY keyboard.  The 7510 can also connect to a GPS module to store the exact time, date & place of testing.

Several of the personal testers can be used in a pre-screening environment
where a professional detector is also available for follow-up testing should any indication be found from the screening device.  To view our range of screening kits, click here.

If you are only looking to test yourself, click a quick link button below or browse the thumbnails at the bottom of the page