Workplace Alcohol Testing


Find out why alcohol testing in the workplace is increasing throughout the United States and what specific factors are influencing workplace alcohol testing in today's society.

And keep in mind that from a conceptual framework, most of what applies to workplace "alcohol testing" also applies to workplace "drug and alcohol testing."

The Different Kinds of Workplace Alcohol Tests

There are basically five different kinds of alcohol tests that are available in the workplace: alcohol blood tests (also called blood tests for alcohol or blood alcohol tests), saliva alcohol tests, hair alcohol tests, urine alcohol tests, and alcohol breathalyzer tests (also called breath alcohol tests and alcohol breath tests).

Ironically, one of the best methods for drug testing, namely, using human samples, until recently was not feasible for alcohol testing due to the fact that alcohol hair tests could not detect alcohol. With major technological changes, however, using hair samples is now an accurate and reliable way to test for alcohol.

Why Is Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Increasing?

In many states in the U.S., workplace alcohol testing is increasing due to the "drug-free workplace" movement; to poor production that is alcohol-related; frequently occurring, alcohol-related, on-the-job accidents, injuries, and fatalities; and rising workers compensation premiums.

Please continue reading for many more reasons for the increase in alcohol testing in the workplace.

Alcohol Testing and Employees' Privacy Rights

In many respects, workplace alcohol testing is a balancing act between addressing and trying to reduce alcohol-related accidents, injuries, fatalities, violence, and productivity issues on the one hand and protecting employees' privacy rights on the other.

Interestingly, while some states actually prohibit employee drug and alcohol testing, other states, however, do permit drug and alcohol testing if certain procedural safeguards are implemented.

Such safeguards are put in place so that the testing is administered in a way that respects employees' rights of privacy.

For instance, in most instances the utilization of closed-circuit cameras is not permitted to monitor relatively intrusive urine and blood alcohol testing procedures.

Mandatory Alcohol Testing For On-The-Job Accidents

In some states, employers have established mandatory drug and alcohol testing when an on-the-job accident has taken place.

If the testing procedure verifies that the employee was indeed under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident and that the employee's blood alcohol concentration was .08 grams or greater, in some states such as Ohio, neither the employer nor workers compensation is obligated to pay for lost wages or for medical treatment that resulted from the accident.

In other words, if you live in Ohio and you sustain injuries in an on-the-job accident that was proven to be alcohol-related (at or above the .08 level) and you miss four weeks of work due to these injuries, you will probably not receive any wage compensation for the time you missed either by your employer or by workers compensation.

Not only this, but if you have received medical treatment for these injuries, again, neither your employer nor workers compensation is obligated to pay for this treatment.

The Reasons For Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing

Having said this, it is important to ask the following question: why are many employers establishing drug-free work environments and implementing drug and alcohol testing in the workplace?

Before listing these "reasons" it is important to emphasize that the rationale for workplace "alcohol testing" also applies to the larger discussion of workplace "drug and alcohol testing."

For instance, the statement "alcohol tests reduce employee theft" from a wider framework can be restated to read as follows: "drug and alcohol tests reduce employee theft."

The following represents some of the main reasons for alcohol testing in the workplace by employers:

  • Alcohol tests reduce employee theft

  • Alcohol tests reduce on-the-job alcohol-related accidents, injuries, and fatalities

  • Alcohol tests reduce spending due to the fact that worker's compensation offers reduced premiums if employers initiate random drug and alcohol testing

  • Alcohol tests create a safer work environment

  • Alcohol tests increase worker productivity

  • Alcohol tests significantly upgrade the workforce by weeding out employees who refuse to get alcohol treatment and by eliminating prospective employees via mandatory pre-hire drug and alcohol tests

  • Alcohol tests reduce employee turnover

  • Alcohol tests reduce employee violence

  • Alcohol tests reduce employee sexual harassment

Conclusion: Workplace Alcohol Testing

In many states, workplace alcohol testing is increasing due to mounting workers compensation premiums; alcohol-related work inefficiency; and costly, debilitating, and at times, fatal alcohol-related, on-the-job injuries and accidents.

A number of drug and alcohol testing statistics reinforce the reasons for more alcohol testing in the workplace by U.S. employers.

In addition, mandatory testing for work-related accidents has resulted in instances where employees did not receive work compensation or compensation for medical treatment by their employers or by workers compensation when they were tested and found to be under the influence of alcohol (at the .08 or higher lever) at the time of a work-related accident.

It is important to note that while the focal point of the above discussion was on employee alcohol testing and alcohol testing in the workplace, from a conceptual perspective, most of what applies to employee alcohol testing also applies to "employee drug and alcohol testing."

In other words, due to the fact that alcohol testing is a key component in "drug testing," it would appear that workplace drug and alcohol testing is likely to continue and perhaps increase in the near future.

Do You Need Alcohol Treatment?

If you are concerned about your drinking behavior after reading the alcohol testing information in this article and you feel the need to talk with a therapist or a counselor, please call your local drug and alcohol treatment center and make an appointment.