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Safe Alcohol & Drug Testing during COVID-19

Safe Alcohol & Drug Testing during COVID-19

Safety advice for workplace alcohol and drug testing during COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies and organisations understandably paused or scaled down alcohol and drug testing due to hygiene concerns.

We have provided the following safety guidance to our clients implementing in-house alcohol and/or drug testing in the workplace.

In all instances, standard key behaviours should be followed with regards to:

  • HANDS – wash regularly for at least 20 seconds
  • FACE – wear a face covering in indoors settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet
  • SPACE – stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible; or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings/protective sneeze guards/extra ventilation)

The most important symptoms of COVID-19 are recent onset of any of the following a new continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss of, or change in normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia). If any of these symptoms are being experienced by either operator or donor, they should immediately self-isolate and follow government guidance on testing.

In all other instances, the following safety precautions are recommended.

Test outside, if possible

Where possible, we recommend that testing takes place outside. If this is not possible, indoor testing should take place in a well-ventilated area and protective ‘sneeze guard’ screens should be used to ensure additional safety to both operator and donor.

Sanitise between tests

Where testing is taking place indoors, all hard surfaces in the vicinity should be subject to enhanced cleaning regime between each test.

If alcohol-based sanitisers and disinfectant are being used to clean the test equipment, a minimum of 10 minutes between cleaning and testing is required to ensure alcohol-vapours have dissipated.

Read more about cleaning and disinfecting after breath testing (pdf)

Wear appropriate PPE

The operator and donor to maintain social distancing wherever possible.

We recommend that masks and gloves are worn by both operator and donor at all times while following testing procedures and handling equipment. The mask of the donor may be lifted when physical sampling required but immediately replaced post sample.

PPE should be removed and disposed of in a suitably-safe manner after each test.

Record operator and donor details

Details of both the test operator and donor should be recorded to assist with NHS Track & Trace requirements.

Ensure COVID safe breathalyser use

The exhaust-end of any alcohol testing device should be directed away from the vicinity of any personnel to prevent exhaled air contamination. Exhaled breath as an aerosol will travel much further than normal exhaled breath – all hard surfaces within a 4-metre radius that could be contaminated should be cleaned after each test.

Attaching the mouthpiece

The donor should open and fit the disposable mouthpiece wherever possible. Individually packed disposable mouthpieces should be attached to the breathalyser without touching the mouthpiece itself.

Attaching the breathalyser mouthpiece hygienically.

We recommend that Non-Return Valve Mouthpieces are used with Dräger Alcotest equipment.

Providing a breath sample

The test should be carried out at a 90 degree angle to prevent the donor from blowing in the direction of the operator. Extenders by way of ‘selfie sticks’ can be used where donor-handling of equipment is not possible.

Providing a breath sample hygienically

Removing the mouthpiece

Mouthpieces must be hygienically discarded after every use.

Removing the mouthpiece hygienically

Further advice

Read more about Hygiene during Breath Testing (pdf)

Read more about Hygiene during Drug Testing (pdf)

If you have any further questions or concerns about alcohol and/or drug testing and COVID, please contact us – our experienced team can offer advice and solutions for your company or organisation.