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Employee Alcohol Testing

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Learn why employee alcohol testing is on the rise throughout the United States and what particular issues are influencing employee alcohol testing in U.S. organizations, institutions, companies, and corporations.

And take into account the fact that from a practical point of view, most of what applies to employee "alcohol testing" also applies to employee "drug and alcohol testing."

Why Is Employee Alcohol Testing Increasing?

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

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Employee Alcohol Testing and Employee's Privacy Rights

In many respects, employee alcohol testing is a juggling act between addressing and trying to diminish alcohol-related deaths, violence, accidents, productivity problems, and injuries on the one hand and protecting employees' privacy rights on the other.

Interestingly, while some states in fact do not recognize company drug and alcohol testing, others, though, do permit company drug and alcohol testing if definite procedural precautions are put into practice.

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

For instance, the employment of closed-circuit cameras is not permitted to monitor relatively intrusive urine and blood alcohol testing processes.

Requisite Employee Alcohol Testing For Work-Related Accidents

In some states, employers have created obligatory alcohol testing when a work-related accident has taken place.

If the testing results verifies that the employee was in fact 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 like Ohio, neither the employer nor workers compensation is obliged to pay for lost wages or for medical costs that resulted from the accident.

Stated more specifically, if you live in Ohio, for instance, and you receive injuries in an on-the-job accident that was shown to be alcohol-related (at or above the .08 level) and you miss at least four weeks of work from these injuries, in all likelihood you will not receive any wage compensation for the time you missed either by your employer or by workers compensation.

In addition, if you have obtained medical treatment for these injuries, then again, neither your employer nor workers compensation is required to pay for this treatment.

The Reasons For Employee Alcohol Testing

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

Before listing these "reasons" it is critical to accentuate the fact that the rationale for employee "alcohol testing" also applies to the larger discussion of employee "drug and alcohol testing."

For example, the contention "alcohol tests decrease employee violence" from a wider outlook can be restated to read as follows: "drug and alcohol tests decrease employee violence."

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

  • Alcohol tests increase worker productivity

  • Alcohol tests decrease employee violence

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

  • Alcohol tests create a safer work environment

  • Alcohol tests decrease employee sexual harassment

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

  • Alcohol tests significantly upgrade the workforce by weeding out employees who refuse to get alcohol counseling and by removing prospective employees via required pre-hire drug and alcohol tests

  • Alcohol tests diminish employee turnover

  • Alcohol tests reduce employee theft

Types of Employee Alcohol Tests

There are primarily five different types of alcohol tests that are currently available in the workplace:

  • Urine alcohol tests

  • Saliva alcohol tests

  • Blood alcohol tests

  • Breath alcohol tests

  • Hair alcohol tests.

It can be emphasized that hair tests for alcohol are a relatively recent development.

More explicitly, until 2008, hair tests could not detect alcohol and were thusly used essentially for drug testing rather than for alcohol testing.

Conclusion: Employee Alcohol Testing

In various states, company alcohol testing is on the rise due to mounting workers compensation premiums; alcohol-related work inefficiency; and costly, debilitating, and at times, terminal alcohol-related, on-the-job injuries and accidents.

Not an insignificant number of drug and alcohol testing statistics and facts emphasize the reasons for more employee alcohol testing by U.S. employers.

In addition, mandatory testing for work-related accidents has resulted in circumstances in which employees did not get work compensation or compensation for medical counseling by workers compensation or by their employers when they were tested and found to be under the influence of alcohol (at the .08 or higher lever) at the time of an accident that happened at work.

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It is significant to note that while the focal point of the above discussion was on employee alcohol testing, from a practical mentality, most of what is applicable to employee "alcohol testing" also applies to employee "drug and alcohol testing."

That is, the statement "alcohol tests decrease employee sexual harassment" can be expanded to read as follows: "drug and alcohol tests decrease employee sexual harassment."

Based on the countless alcohol-related difficulties that can and do arise in the workplace, employee drug and alcohol is likely to continue and conceivably increase in the near future.

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