Pre-employment tests limit risks

An image depicting a smiling man, Rhys Evans

RHYS EVANS Substance abuse can lead to employees making poor decisions, and higher absenteeism, which, in turn, exacerbates poor production rates, in addition to increased company expenses and the risk of accidents

26th May 2023

By: Sabrina Jardim

Creamer Media Writer


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With substance abuse having been exacerbated during the Covid-19 pandemic, pre-employment drug and alcohol testing has become a greater necessity in the workplace, says substance abuse testing equipment supplier Alco-Safe MD Rhys Evans.

Pre-employment testing entails conducting tests prior to or during a job interview, whereby the employer notifies job applicants beforehand that drug and alcohol tests may be conducted in conjunction with the interview.

In this way, companies have a better chance of ensuring a sober workforce from the onset of employment.

“Companies should aim to implement policies that allow for employee testing, as well as pre-employment testing. “This can help ensure that companies do not employ people who may have an existing problem,” says Evans.

He notes that, should the relevant policies not be adopted, companies risk the danger of creating a culture of alcohol and drug abuse that can be spread by employees who, subsequently, influence one another.

Moreover, substance abuse can lead to employees making poor decisions, and higher absenteeism, which, in turn, exacerbates poor production rates, in addition to increased company expenses and the risk of accidents.

“In industries with increased risks, having someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol amplifies those risks because an inebriated person will take more risks than they would if they were sober. Hence, they are likely to cause more accidents and be less productive,” notes Evans.

For employees who are found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, companies should have policies in place that avoid immediate dismissal, owing to substance abuse being considered a disease.

Companies are, therefore, encouraged to implement an employee assistance programme that enables employees to seek counselling and rehabilitation. In the case of smaller companies that cannot afford to implement such programmes, employees should be afforded sick leave.

Before allowing employees back in the workplace, companies should conduct further tests to ensure that they are ready to return to work, with Evans warning that repeat offenders can face dismissal.


To mitigate substance abuse in the workplace, General Regulation 2A of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the Mine Health and Safety Act (MHSA) stipulates that employers are allowed to deny employees access to the workplace, should they be found to be under the influence.

Regulation 2A provides practical measures that companies can take to address substance abuse in the workplace.

“The OHSA and MHSA are very good at setting guidelines in place for what companies should do to ensure that they do not allow substance abuse to be a problem within the workplace,” notes Evans.

However, the MHSA and OHSA do not stipulate exactly what companies can do to deal with the issues, leaving this up to the company’s discretion.

This often leads to companies not implementing adequate safety measures, with Evans expressing particular concern for the local trucking and logistics industry.

Hence, he encourages improved policing and greater auditing by governments, as well as ensuring that roadside drug and alcohol testing is set in place to ensure strict enforcement of the OHSA across various industries.

Products in the Pipeline

To assist in ensuring that substance abuse in the workplace is mitigated, Alco-Safe released an updated version of its standalone breathalyser – the Alcontrol Smartconnect – earlier this month.

The unmanned breathalyser can be retrofitted with existing biometric systems and can be installed on turnstiles or other areas where access control is prevalent.

It aims to improve alcohol monitoring by sending reports to the cloud and making results immediately available, which can then be checked by a supervisor.

Meanwhile, Alco-Safe last year released a drug-testing device that analyses data from a swab of saliva that goes into the instrument, which produces test results within five minutes.

Results are released and stored digitally, making it easier for supervisors to access the data.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor




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