Jim Courtwood
Author of the Time & Attendance Consultant's Guide Series

Alcohol Breath Testing Technologies in the Workplace: A Tool for Ensuring Safety and Compliance

Alcohol misuse and abuse pose significant safety and health hazards in the workplace.

For jobs that require high levels of alertness and concentration, such as operating heavy machinery or driving vehicles, the consequences of alcohol consumption can be particularly dangerous and even fatal.

Consequently, businesses have begun implementing alcohol breath testing technologies as part of their safety protocols. This article explores the scope, significance, and effectiveness of these technologies in maintaining a sober and safe work environment.

Understanding Alcohol Breath Testing Alcohol breath testing, often referred to as breath alcohol testing or breathalyzer testing, involves analyzing a person's breath sample to estimate the blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

When a person consumes alcohol, it enters their bloodstream and is eventually expelled from the body through various means, including breath. The amount of alcohol in one's breath correlates to the concentration of alcohol in their blood, allowing for an estimation of intoxication levels.

The Role of Breathalyzers in the Workplace The use of breathalyzer tests in the workplace aims to prevent alcohol-impaired employees from engaging in tasks that could potentially harm themselves, their colleagues, or the broader public.

The two main types of alcohol breath testing technologies commonly used in workplaces include:

Screening Devices: These are quick, handheld devices that give a pass or fail result, indicating whether an employee's BAC is above or below a certain threshold.

Evidential Breath Testing (EBT) Devices: If the screening device indicates a fail, an EBT device is often used for a confirmatory test. These devices provide a more accurate BAC measurement and can be used as evidence if an employee disputes the results.

The Benefits of Alcohol Breath Testing in the Workplace Implementing a comprehensive alcohol testing program has several benefits:

Improved Safety: Regular and random alcohol testing can significantly reduce the risk of accidents, injuries, and fatalities in the workplace, particularly in high-risk industries such as construction, transportation, and manufacturing.

Enhanced Productivity: A sober workforce is a productive workforce. Alcohol can impair an individual's cognitive and physical abilities, leading to a decrease in work quality and efficiency.

Decreased Liability: Companies can reduce their liability for incidents caused by impaired employees through regular alcohol testing.

Promotion of Health and Wellbeing: Regular alcohol testing can encourage employees to make healthier choices and discourage excessive alcohol consumption, which contributes to their overall wellbeing.

Implementing Alcohol Breath Testing in the Workplace

When integrating alcohol breath testing into workplace safety protocols, companies need to balance legal and privacy concerns with the aim of maintaining a safe working environment. It's crucial to develop a clear and comprehensive policy that explains when and how testing will be conducted, the consequences of a positive result, and the rights and responsibilities of both employers and employees.

In addition, the technology used for alcohol breath testing must be reliable, accurate, and easy to use. Equipment should meet the necessary regulatory standards, and those conducting the tests should receive proper training to ensure they can administer tests correctly and interpret the results accurately.


While the adoption of alcohol breath testing technologies in the workplace may seem like a significant investment, the potential benefits in terms of safety, productivity, and liability far outweigh the costs. By choosing the right technology and implementing a clear and fair testing policy, businesses can ensure a safer and more productive work environment for all.

If you would like further information on how we can help your organisation introduce alcohol testing within a time and attendance management framework please contact Jim Courtwood by one of the methods below.

Jim Courtwood

Time & Attendance Consultant


1300 553 254

0437 772 977