Many employees are aware that one of the conditions of their employment is undergoing drug and alcohol testing from time to time. These programs are widespread throughout various industries, and some are even required by law. That said, many employees may not understand how the process works and how dependent their results are on various factors. More to the point, these results can even depend on the type of test given, the most popular of which is a blood and alcohol test.
While most commonly associated with driving under the influence, blood and alcohol tests have other uses and are used so heavily because of the accuracy and dependability of their results. At the same time, it’s important to understand how these tests are given and the conditions that can affect the results. This is especially true for those employees–such as commercial truck drivers–whose livelihood can depend on the results of a test.
Fleet Drug Testing Can Meet Your Company’s Needs
If your company is required to test employees for drugs and alcohol, you should strongly consider reaching out to our team at Fleet Drug Testing. Our team of professionals can ensure you stay compliant with regulations and provide a one-stop, full-service drug and alcohol testing program that meets your company’s specific needs. To get started, contact us today for a free consultation.
What Is a Blood and Alcohol Test and How Is It Administered?
A blood and alcohol test is a medical examination that measures the amount of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream. This test is usually performed to:
- Evaluate a person’s overall health, as well as identify underlying medical conditions that may be affecting alcohol metabolism.
- Determine if a person has consumed alcohol and, if so, how much. Usually, this occurs when the person is suspected of driving under the influence.
- Ensure compliance with regulations, usually for safety-sensitive positions such as those involving heavy machinery or driving. These tests may be conducted as part of pre-employment screening or random testing programs and may be used to assess an individual’s ability to perform their job safely.
Most of the time a blood and alcohol test is administered by taking a sample of blood from the person being tested. The process typically involves the following steps:
- Collection of the sample – A healthcare professional will collect a sample of blood from the individual using a needle and a syringe. The sample is usually taken from a vein in the arm.
- Preparation of the sample – The blood sample is placed in a special tube that contains a preservative to prevent it from clotting and to preserve the alcohol content.
- Analysis of the sample – The blood sample is then sent to a laboratory for analysis. The lab uses a gas chromatography test to measure the amount of alcohol in the blood sample.
- Reporting the results – The results of the blood and alcohol test are reported in terms of blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which is given as a percentage. In most states, a BAC level of 0.08% or higher is considered legally intoxicated for purposes of driving.
As with any test, the most important part of the procedure is balancing the accuracy and reliability of the results with the privacy of your employees. At the same time, it’s important for employees to understand the conditions under which they can be tested.
Am I Required to Take a Blood and Alcohol Test?
Probably the biggest question you have as an employee is whether or not you’re required to take a blood and alcohol test. Generally speaking, you have to comply with being tested under the following conditions:
- Pre-employment screening – An employer may require you to take a blood and alcohol test before you are hired as a condition of employment.
- Random testing – Some employers may conduct random testing for alcohol and drugs to ensure a safe and drug-free workplace. This type of testing is typically done without notice or warning.
- Reasonable suspicion – If your employer has a reasonable suspicion that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol while at work, they may require you to take a blood and alcohol test.
- Post-accident testing – If you are involved in a workplace accident or injury, your employer may require you to take a blood and alcohol test to determine if drugs or alcohol played a role in the incident.
- Return-to-work testing – If you have been on leave or absent from work due to drug or alcohol-related issues, your employer may require you to take a blood and alcohol test before you can return to work.
While blood and alcohol tests are generally considered to be accurate, any number of factors can cause false readings, which can then have a negative effect on your ability to do your job. Thus, being aware of these factors can help you appeal a negative test, or simply ask for another test to be administered.
What Factors Can Affect Blood and Alcohol Test Results?
As an employee, it’s not only important to understand how blood and alcohol tests are administered, but how they actually work. More to the point, being aware of the various factors that can affect a test result is extremely important because, in most cases, a negative test result could mean that you won’t be able to perform work for a company or employer. This, in turn, will likely have a negative impact on you and your family. Since you don’t want that to happen, here are some factors that can affect the results of a blood and alcohol test:
- Time of the test – The time elapsed between alcohol consumption and the blood test can significantly impact the results. Blood alcohol levels can rise or fall depending on the time that has passed since the individual last consumed alcohol.
- Metabolism – The rate at which an individual’s body metabolizes alcohol can vary depending on various factors such as age, weight, gender, and overall health. People with a faster metabolism tend to eliminate alcohol from their system more quickly than those with a slower metabolism.
- Type and amount of alcohol consumed – The type and amount of alcohol consumed can also impact blood alcohol levels. Beer, wine, and liquor have different alcohol content, and the amount of alcohol consumed can also affect BAC levels.
- Medications and medical conditions – Certain medications and medical conditions can interfere with the body’s ability to metabolize alcohol or affect the accuracy of blood alcohol testing.
- Testing method and equipment – The accuracy of blood and alcohol test results can also be affected by the testing method and equipment used. Improperly calibrated equipment, errors in sample collection, and mishandling of samples can all lead to inaccurate results.
When your very livelihood depends on the reliability of a blood and alcohol test, the stakes are quite high. Knowing how the above factors can affect the result of your test can provide you with some guidance on what to do if you receive a negative result. However, as an employer, working with our team of experienced professionals can ensure accurate results that both you and your employees can trust.
Fast, Reliable Blood and Alcohol Testing From Fleet Drug Testing
When you need fast and accurate blood and alcohol testing, consider working with Fleet Drug Testing. Our team of experienced professionals is dedicated to providing accurate results in a timely manner, ensuring that you have the information you need to make informed decisions.
At Fleet Drug Testing, we understand the importance of maintaining a safe and drug-free workplace. That’s why we offer a range of drug and alcohol testing services, including blood testing, to help you ensure that your employees are fit for duty. Contact us today to get started.