An easy-to-follow guide for those considering blood alcohol testing for their workplace.
(*This article is intended for informative purposes only, and should not be considered a replacement for professional legal advice. If you have any questions relating to BAC testing in your business, please consult with the appropriate legal professionals.)
As a major supplier of safety and measurement devices to a variety of industry across Singapore and abroad, we’re often contacted by corporate clients who want to know:
“Is it legal to purchase, and use, a breathalyzer within our organization?”
Often thought to be tools exclusively to law enforcement, breathalyzers can determine the blood alcohol content (BAC) of an individual, usually in a matter of seconds. And since businesses are responsible for providing a safe working environment, as well as protecting their investments in equipment and infrastructure, it’s a very good question that’s worth examining in detail.
In order to help everyone understand the rules and regulations regarding breathalyzer ownership, we’ve compiled a handy guide that’ll shed some light on the subject.
Is it Legal to Purchase and Own a Breathalyzer Device in Singapore?
In a word; yes.
You are well within your right as an organization (or even as an individual) to buy and own a breathalyzer. There are many different models currently available, with price points suited for any budget and features tailored to whatever your needs may be.
Can My Company Request That an Employee Take a Breathalyzer Test?
Again, in a word; yes. For any reason you so determine, you can absolutely ask any employee to participate in a breathalyzer test. There is no law that prohibits this.
There also isn’t any law that will back up your request for someone to take said test. This means that no matter how much you may demand it, even if there is evidence that an employee may be intoxicated, they can simply refuse your demands.
If they say no, you absolutely cannot administer a breathalyzer test.
However, while there may not be any legislation requiring someone to concede to your request for testing, if you have just cause to believe that an employee may be impaired as a result of alcohol use, having a breathalyzer unit on-site can go a long way in protecting your company.
Let’s examine the following:
Imagine that you own a construction company, and in the course of a day, your team uses heavy machinery in order to do their jobs. Bulldozers, dump trucks, and other monstrous vehicles are par for the course during the workweek.
During an afternoon lunch break, one of your employees has several alcoholic drinks. Once back at the job site, this newly impaired employee gets behind the wheel of a crane and accidentally knocks over a scaffold, causing harm to others and damage to expensive equipment.
Should you attempt to administer a breathalyzer, especially if all the telltale signs of intoxication are present?
Had a breathalyzer test been given before the employee was allowed back to work, the above scenario could likely have been avoided. And in the case of an accident, a BAC reading provides much-needed physical proof that can play a major factor in any legal hearings.
The Sooner, The Better
Does your company have an operational manual for employees, perhaps a guide that all new hires get when they join your team? If so, this is a great place to spell out in clear terms that your business utilizes breathalyzer testing. A copy of this policy should also be readily available for anyone that wishes to review it.
If an individual knows from the moment they’re offered a position of employment that BAC testing is a part of your organization’s culture and everyone is expected to abide by it, it reduces the likelihood that you’ll face rejection should a need for testing arise.
Almost every business out there, no matter how large or small, has a set of guidelines that were created to govern employee expectations while on the job. These rules are often created to protect and preserve the integrity of your brand and the health of those under your employ, and from a personal standpoint, there’s no reason why BAC testing shouldn’t be an integral part of your policies.
Guidelines for Creating BAC Policies
If your organization is planning on instituting breathalyzer testing, it’s recommended that your approach be written in clear, concise terminology that anyone would be able to understand. Details should include:
- Why there is a need for BAC testing within your organization (not necessarily meant to punish employees, but for the safety of others and equipment)
- When exactly the company will start issuing tests
- At what frequency will tests be administered (monthly, randomly, etc.)
- How you can ensure that the results of your tests are accurate
- At what reading is an employee considered to have failed the test (0.08% is the legal limit for driving, but your company’s personal tolerance may differ)
- The consequences for failing a test
This list should by no means be considered to be exhaustive, as your individual needs will dictate what to include in your own policy. While it’s necessary to be as thorough as possible to prevent any objections or “gray area” arguments from employees, it’s equally as important that all of your terms be written in clear, concise terminology that anyone can understand.
In business, the health of employees and the integrity of the brand fall on the shoulders of those in charge, and both can be put into jeopardy through the careless actions of a negligent few that choose to work while under the influence of alcohol.
If you’re a business owner, HR manager, or hold a role where safety management is one of your responsibilities, you owe it to yourself and your company to take any steps necessary to prevent accidents whenever you can, of which breathalyzer testing can play a huge role. Although employees are under no obligation to take the test, developing a set of guidelines before issues arise can help reduce the chance that they may on down the road.
Looking for additional information regarding personal and commercial use of breathalyzers, as well as a few recommendations as to which models can best fit your needs? This article can help!