Following the recent announcement that the UK Government is to clamp down on drink and drug drivers, alcohol and drug safety experts are urging companies to be more vigilant when it comes to their alcohol and drug testing policies. Drugs and alcohol cost British businesses in excess of £6 billion per year in lost productivity and in 2014 alone alcohol accounted for 5,650 accidents and 8,320 casualties on UK roads.

In July 2013 an 11 year old boy was tragically killed after Gary Green, a farm worker, who was twice the legal drink-drive limit, hit him with his tractor.  However, the man’s employer, Swithens Farm in Rothwell, did not believe on the day of the accident that he appeared drunk or that alcohol was a factor in his demeanour.     

Suzannah Robin is an alcohol and drug safety expert at AlcoDigital.  She works with corporate and governmental organisations addressing their alcohol and drug testing needs. She said:

“In the UK there is no legal requirement for employing organisations to implement alcohol policies, however, health and safety at work legislation requires .  Certainly if the company that employed the tractor driver had a regular and random alcohol testing policy in place it is highly likely that he wouldn’t have been driving that day and this tragic event could have been avoided.”

Currently companies operating under the Railways and Transport Bill, such as airlines and rail operators, have to adhere to a drink-drive limit (0.02% BAC) that is just a quarter of the current drink-drive level in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (0.08% BAC) and less than half of Scotland’s lower limit (0.05%).  However, there is no obligation for companies operating outside these confinements to follow these guidelines.  

Suzannah continued:

“We work with numerous companies in many different industry sectors that already operate robust alcohol and drug policies.  This includes regular random testing of their employees, which has resulted in significant benefits for improving safety and safeguarding their businesses.  However many more companies, particularly those in the transport industry or those operating heavy machinery, need to do more to improve standards not just for the safety of their employees but to protect the general public as well.”

Suzannah added:

“We would always recommend that a business adopts a drug and alcohol policy as standard and consults a professional to help implement their plans.”