Why Carry Out Employee Testing on Emergency Service Employees?

Emergency service employees are responsible for the safety of the general public; bound by rules and regulations, police officers, fire and rescue teams, ambulance crews, and life boat crews have ultimate responsibility in ensuring public safety.

With each role including a variety of activities from driving, to providing medical assistance, and generally saving people’s lives, the consequence of drugs and alcohol misuse includes not only a danger to the employee, but their fellow co-workers and the general public.

    Instances of drug abuse or alcohol misuse can lead to:

    • Increase in accidents and/or danger to the general public
    • Bad publicity
    • Fines
    • Criminal action or formal disciplinary proceedings
    • Employee tribunals
    • Increased absenteeism, and staff turnover, leading to a shortage of staff for the agency
    • Public distrust of local authority agencies

A proactive approach in minimising risks associated with employee abuse of drugs and alcohol is to carry out employee testing; essential to ensure public safety, testing for substance abuse reduces the chances of serious incidents occurring.

Rules and Regulations

Emergency service employees have a responsibility to present themselves fit for duty. To ensure this is enforced, there are rules, regulations, and procedures in place which must be adhered to by all employees. In regards to drugs and alcohol, there are specific limits in place to ensure limited to no consumption of drugs and alcohol before or during work.

Rules and regulations vary across each sector and region within the emergency services industry. The following are some known limits across the industry in the UK:

Limits in the Police Service

    The police service does not have a national code of conduct for drugs and alcohol consumption and are governed by local codes and policies:

    • The use of illegal drugs is prohibited
    • An employee is unfit to work if they have more than 29mg% in blood (39mg% in urine, 13mg% in breath). This compares with a limit of 80mg% in blood for driving

Limits in the Fire and Rescue Service

    • Consuming alcohol within 4 hours of the start of shift is prohibited
    • A fire-fighter cannot complete their safety-sensitive functions if they have recently consumed drugs or alcohol, or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol

Limits in the Ambulance Service

    • Some ambulance services stipulate that no alcohol is to be consumed within 12 hours of ambulance duty
    • UK ambulance services recommend no alcohol or therapeutic drug intake before undertaking safety critical responsibilities
    • Any prescriptive or non-prescriptive medication that can alter the mental state of an ambulance service employee should not be taken within 12 hours of their shift

Limits in the Coast Guard Service

    • No coastguard reporting for duty should consume alcohol within 4 hours before their shift
    • A blood alcohol concentration of 40mg% blood alcohol content is considered ‘intoxication’

Who Should Be Tested?

To keep communities safe, drug and alcohol testing of all emergency service employees are recommended. This includes employees who are paid or voluntary, and permanent or temporary.

    Certain job roles will require more regular testing as their duties present a greater safety risk and are integral in maintaining public trust in emergency services; this may include the following employees:

    • Drivers i.e. ambulance drivers, road police officers, volunteer community drivers etc.
    • Underwater search teams
    • Drug squad officers
    • Special branch officers
    • Test purchase officers
    • On call staff
    • Fire suppression staff
    • Training roof operations staff

We Recommend Regular Testing

At Randox Testing Services we recommend regular testing; acting as a deterrent to staff, and a proactive approach to eliminating instances of substance abuse, workplace drug and alcohol testing also gives employers an opportunity to emphasize the risks of drugs and alcohol to their employees.

Ensuring confidence in results, Randox Testing Services offers high quality testing for results you can trust. In addition, with a variety of workplace drug and alcohol testing, and services to help and support you in implementing an employee testing policy, we guarantee solutions to meet your needs.

  • Contact us to find out more about our services

    We offer a fully confidential and no obligation initial consultation.