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Keeping You On Course

At sea or on waterways, alcohol and drugs are even more dangerous than on land because of the changing environment. The motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray, can emphasise the effects of taking drugs or alcohol. This leads to a strong decrease in awareness and hazard perception.

Due to the regulations involving substance misuse within the maritime industry, many companies are trying to put policies in place that restrict or eliminate the amount of drugs or alcohol being taken by their crew. Despite this, accidents still happen at sea.

Regular screening of drugs and alcohol is recommended for employees operating within the maritime industry. This is to prevent drugs and alcohol from impairing the ability of the crew which results in minimising and eliminating safety hazards.

Why Test?

Any use of drugs or alcohol can affect cognitive ability, balance, co-ordination and concentration. This combined with the changing environment at sea increases the likelihood of accidents occurring. The standards for Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) outline that it is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It also details a limit no greater than 0.05% blood alcohol level or 0.25 mg/l alcohol in the breath (BrAc) for mariners.

The Maritime industry is very susceptible to the abuse of drugs and alcohol for the following reasons outlined by The International Maritime Organisation:

  • The vessel acts as both work and home for an extended period of time
  • The working hours are long and irregular
  • There is limited social interaction other than that with the crew
  • Support and health facilities are limited
  • Working conditions can often be difficult
  • Significant variations in the rules and regulations surrounding the use of drugs and alcohol in each country

We Recommend Regular Testing

The STCW recommend that in order to identify, minimise and eliminate drug and alcohol abuse in the Maritime Industry, screening programmes should be implemented. Those who are specifically involved in safety critical roles require regular testing to prevent alcohol and drugs from impairing the ability of the crew.

Guidelines for the Control of Drugs and Alcohol Onboard Ship, provided by the Oil Companies International Marine Forum, outline that seafarers should be subject to testing for drug and alcohol through a mixture of random and regular testing.

At Randox Testing Services we ensure solutions to meet your needs with provision of reliable testing and a range of services to complement your workplace testing policy.

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