Alcohol Testing

Historically, alcohol plays a role in various social engagements. Moderate alcohol drinking while socializing is pleasurable. That said, alcohol is considered one of the world’s most used and abused substances.

According to statistics, over 107 million people worldwide are estimated to have an alcohol use disorder. Alcohol abuse is one of the most common reasons for adverse health conditions, injuries, and almost half of all traffic fatalities.

In the workplace, alcoholism manifests itself in various ways, from increased absenteeism rates to on-the-job injuries. As such, workplace alcohol testing programs have become the norm across numerous industries, particularly high-risk sectors such as construction businesses.

This article shares the basics of workplace alcohol testing, its benefits, types, and the best practices when implementing one in your company.

Understanding Alcohol Testing And Its Different Types

Alcohol testing is detecting the presence of alcohol and its metabolites in a person to determine if they’re currently intoxicated or consumed alcohol in the past. There are various reasons you’ll need alcohol testing, but they’re usually included in pre-employment health screenings. Most employers also partner with third-party testers like Lextox to perform routine alcohol tests, especially if required by law.

In general, there are four ways to screen for alcohol use. Each type provides varying detection periods, so the right one depends on the circumstances.

1. Breathalyzers

Commonly used by the traffic police, breathalyzers or electronic breath alcohol testing offers a quick way to determine intoxication. With this type, a person blows into a mouthpiece, and the electronic reader determines your blood alcohol content. It detects alcohol in your bloodstream from 15 minutes to a day after consumption.

2. Urine Tests

If you want to know if someone has been drinking recently, a urine test can detect alcohol metabolites in their system. While a positive result doesn’t indicate that they’re currently intoxicated, it reveals that alcohol was consumed over the past 70-80 hours.

3. Blood Tests

Unlike breath and urine tests that look for metabolites, blood tests screen for actual alcohol traces. This is more suitable for determining alcohol abuse within 3-4 weeks. This type of test is quite expensive and should be done by a licensed medical professional.

4. Hair Test

Out of all the types of alcohol tests, hair testing offers the most comprehensive result due to its extended detection period. A hair follicle test can help you determine if a person has been using alcohol over the past 90 days.

Reasons Why You Should Implement Alcohol Testing In The Workplace

The primary reason to implement routine workplace alcohol testing is to enhance the safety and health of employees. Alcohol abuse doesn't do businesses any good. Remember that alcohol intoxication, particularly in dangerous workplaces such as construction or factory sites, is a business liability, causing costly accidents or injuries.

In addition, alcohol isn’t exactly a performance-enhancing substance for most tasks. So, it can negatively impact a person’s reaction time, reducing focus, concentration, and productivity. Moreover, alcohol testing helps businesses remain compliant, particularly for jobs requiring mandatory alcohol testing under the law, such as airline pilots or truck drivers.

With a comprehensive alcohol testing program in the workplace, you can help deter employees from consuming and abusing this substance. Additionally, it allows you to determine employees with alcohol issues and provide the necessary support to improve the quality of their life in the workplace.

Consequently, you can create a safer and healthier workplace culture.

Tips To Creating An Effective Workplace Alcohol Testing Policy

1. Have A Written Policy

First, you want comprehensive written rules and policies about your alcohol testing program. This policy should outline everything, including prohibited conduct and consequences for violations. Make sure to communicate and distribute the policy to all employees. Also, ensure employees sign a form acknowledging its receipt.

2. Assign A Manager

Even with a well-written policy, some employees will still have questions. As such, you want to assign a program manager that can answer these questions and oversee routine testing.

3. Pick The Right Tests

As mentioned, there are different tests to screen for alcohol use. Depending on your budget and goals, one test may be more practical. So, do your homework and choose the best option for your alcohol testing initiatives.

4. Test At The Right Times

You should do alcohol testing regularly at the appropriate times. While pre-employment testing is standard, you may also want to conduct random testing to prevent alcohol abuse in the workplace. It would be best to be unbiased and neutral in your random testing, promising a fair and transparent program regardless of the employee and their position.

In addition, you should also consider testing an employee after an accident or work hiatus to ensure that they’re not intoxicated in the past few days or weeks.

5. Provide Support

The best alcohol testing program continues beyond determining who's intoxicated and who's not. When an employee's test results return positive, you must have a structured plan to address the issue.

A comprehensive employee alcohol abuse program includes referring them to the right healthcare professionals, targeted counselling, or a rehabilitation centre to guide them through effective alcohol rehabilitation and get them back on track.


Due to the prevalence of alcoholism, alcohol testing has become a widely accepted initiative to ensure safety and wellness in the workplace. Whether you're drafting a workplace alcohol testing program or want to update your existing processes and policy, this article aims to provide you with the necessary information to ensure an effective and successful workplace testing program.