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Alcohol testing equipment gains momentum

HUMAN ERROR REMOVED The Lifeloc FC5 Sentinel eliminates the possibility of human error by being fully automated

MINE SAFETY South African law requires miners to subject all their employees to alcohol tests to ensure safety

15th May 2015

By: Pimani Baloyi

Creamer Media Writer

  

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Substance abuse and specialised safety equipment supplier PSA Africa has noted increased interest from the mining industry in its Lifeloc FC5 Sentinel alcohol-testing product, which was launched onto the South African market last year.

PSA Africa product manager Michael Crossland tells Mining Weekly that the Lifeloc FC5 Sentinel helps mining companies prevent safety hazards – which might have arisen, had intoxicated employees not been screened beforehand – as the breathalyser offers fully automated alcohol screening that ensures only sober employees are allowed access to the mine property.

“Unfortunately, alcohol abuse is extremely rife in the South African mining sector, which can lead to employees working well below their full potential and [have] dire effects on a mine’s productivity and safety,” he says, adding that for this reason mines are now required by law to screen all their employees daily.

Crossland says the Lifeloc breathalyser is currently widely used at South African gold, platinum and copper mines. The breathalyser can test about 2 000 employees a day – a vast improvement on the previous practice of randomly testing only 30% of 2 000 employees a day, he adds.

“Safety-sensitive environments, such as those underground, require alert and sober employees. We have also found the unit to be ideal for oil and gas refineries and construction sites, which also require high levels of alertness from employees, not only for their safety but also for that of the work site,” he notes.

How it Works
Crossland describes the Lifeloc Sentinel breathalyser as a fixed, wall-mounted, fast and repeatable breath alcohol testing system that is ideal for high-volume, safety-sensitive work environments.

It is a fully automated system that is operator free and can be integrated into a mine’s turnstiles and security-controlled access-points system.

In addition, the unit can be connected to a card-swipe machine or other biometric devices that monitor employee timecards.

He notes that, as the unit does not need human interaction, it removes the possibility of human error, bribery, intimidation, favouritism and discrimination. Depending on the access control system, it is possible to link the unit to a mine’s reporting system, which enables mine management to monitor all the results and trends.

It has a breath pressure sensor that automatically activates the test once a person begins to blow into the system. Negative results will show immediately and it will take a maximum of 20 seconds to reset if the test is positive for alcohol consumption.

Further, the Lifeloc FC5 Sentinel has been fitted with a FC5 Hornet breathalyser inside the casing to ensure that no condensation or saliva builds up as breath comes into contact with the boards and internal hardware. This also ensures that a mouthpiece is not required.

To reduce the risk of tampering, the Lifeloc FC5 Sentinel has no exposed power button, with a full colour liquid crystal display screen and clear icons. Prompts on the touch screen advises the test taker which steps to follow.

PSA Africa is the exclusive South African distributor of the Lifeloc FC5 Sentinel, which is manufactured by US-based technology manufacturer Lifeloc Technologies.

Edited by Leandi Kolver
Creamer Media Deputy Editor

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