Why Carry Out Employee Testing in the Aviation Industry?

The aviation industry is a huge industry with 30-40 million flights each year worldwide. With a significant 3 billion people utilising air travel each year, safety within the aviation industry is vital; trade associations such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) support aviation activity and describe any accident as ‘one too many’.

    Alongside supporting trade associations, safety of public service users is the responsibility of aviation companies and their employees, with each role being of crucial importance:

    • Manufacturers who build the plane
    • Engineers who ensure the plane is safe for use day to day
    • Air traffic controllers who keep airspace safe and co-ordinate traffic in the skies
    • Cabin crew who are trained to keep passengers safe on board
    • Pilots who are responsible for safely flying passengers to their destination

As a result of employee roles being of crucial importance to public safety, it is necessary that they are confident and able to carry out their duties effectively whilst at work. Drug and alcohol abuse prohibits a person’s abilities, and for an employee within the aviation industry substance abuse means endangering the lives of all passengers and employees on board.

Effects of Drugs and Alcohol

    Drugs and alcohol can affect an individual in the following ways:

    • Impaired reaction time
    • Limited judgement
    • Lack of reasoning
    • Lack of memory
    • Impaired awareness
    • Lack of concentration
    • Sudden incapacity
    • Restricted mobility
    • Distorted vision or hearing
    • Decreased perception and co-ordination

To maximise safety, the aviation industry is regulated with policies and procedures to protect the safety of passengers and employees.

Rules and Regulations

Rules and regulations are in place to protect the safety of all passengers, employees and cargo. As a regulated industry, aviation companies are monitored by various industry regulators such as the Civil Aviation Authority (UK), Irish Aviation Authority (Ireland), and the European Aviation Safety Agency (Europe). These government aviation authorities have a role in setting safety standards including monitoring the performance of personnel.

    Alongside government aviation authorities, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a United Nations specialised agency, sets aviation standards and regulations for its 191 member states including USA, UK, and many other European countries. The following is prohibited under the Civil Aviation Publication 19:

    • Reporting to work under the influence of alcohol, with a blood alcohol level in excess of 0.02%
    • The consumption of alcohol less than 8 hours prior to the specified reporting time at the workplace
    • Reporting to work in any safety-critical area under the influence of any prescriptive or non-prescriptive medication or drug, unless the person is completely sure that the medication or treatment will not have any adverse effect on their ability to perform their duties safely

Despite strict regulations on drug abuse and alcohol misuse there are still occurrences where airline employees are found to be misusing drugs and alcohol. Risks should be eliminated by implementing a strict workplace drug and alcohol testing policy and proactively carrying out regular testing.

  • Did You Know?

      • In the UK, the minimum annual percentage rate for random drug testing is only 50% of employees
      • Studies have shown errors in pilot performance with blood alcohol concentrations as low as 0.025% (Federal Aviation Administration)
      • The number of life-threatening errors by pilots dramatically increases at or above concentrations of 0.04% blood alcohol (Federal Aviation Administration)
      • The Federal Aviation Administration only conducts 10,000 to 11,000 random alcohol tests each year

Who Should Be Tested?

    All employees within the aviation industry are responsible for the safety of passengers and cargo. No employee should be excluded from this procedure and therefore the following employees should be tested:

    • Pilot
    • Flight crewmember
    • Cabin crewmember
    • Flight/ground instruction
    • Mechanic
    • Aircraft engineer
    • Air traffic controller
    • Air traffic control students

We Recommend Regular Testing

At Randox Testing Services we recommend regular testing. With many pilots going through their whole career without any drug or alcohol testing there is a need to implement more proactive workplace drug and alcohol testing throughout the aviation industry.

Randox Testing Services offers high quality, reliable and cost-effective workplace drug and alcohol testing solutions. We provide testing to suit the needs of all business with a variety of employee testing available and a variety of services to ensure holistic solutions to meet your needs.

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