Fingertip Alcohol Testing

Fingertip Alcohol Testing

Testing employees for alcohol has become more commonplace in the recent past. In the UK, employers have stated that heavy drinkers are costing them millions of pounds every year. Testing for alcohol has become particularly important for people working in industries where they are exposed to hazardous substances or operate heavy machinery such as truck drivers. In these industries, the potential to cause serious damage, injury and even death means that the issue of being drunk is not acceptable in any way.

Traditional Forms Of Testing

Over the years, there have been various methods that have been developed to test for alcohol. Alcohol can be tested for in blood, urine and oral fluids. However, all these methods have their own disadvantages. Blood tests are too intrusive and take too long to administer. Testing for alcohol in urine is also time consuming and over the years, people have come up with ways of ‘cheating’ in these tests by using other people’s urine or other falsifying ways.

Oral fluid testing and the use of breathalysers have proven to be relatively more successful. Oral fluid testing has a very good accuracy while breath tests can be conducted quickly. The challenge that breath tests for alcohol face are the many sources of errors in the tests. The test usually assumes that the alcohol vapour in the mouth is from the lungs but this assumption isn’t always correct since the vapour in the mouth may come from other sources.

Fingertip Alcohol Testing

The Alcosense Trutouch scanner makes the process of screening for alcohol faster and with a relatively high degree of accuracy (96%). The test simply involves touching a part of the scanner after which the result is produced in around eight seconds. The scanner uses near infrared light to measure the amount of alcohol in the blood. Due to the speed at which it operates, the scanner can test hundreds of workers in just one hour.

The scanner doesn’t just test for the level of alcohol in the body. It can also be used for biometric fingerprint identification to check the identity of the person. This makes the scanner ideal for both safety and security purposes. Some of the likely targets for these scanners will be commercial vehicle depots and bus dispatch centres where their use for alcohol testing and driver identification is of utmost importance.

The biggest advantage of this system is that due to the speed with which it operates, all employees can be screened for alcohol every day. Due to the low speed of other testing methods, testing in the past has mostly been done randomly. The problem with random testing is that certain workers may feel targeted. Testing everybody eliminates this problem.

Some experts also believe that random testing may discourage normal drinkers from turning up to work drunk but it may not be enough to deter heavier drinkers. Testing everyone who comes to work is by far a much better deterrent. However, unions are against the idea of introducing these scanners and feel that employers should work towards helping workers with alcohol abuse problems to seek help instead.


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