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How to Perform a Breath Alcohol Test

A breath alcohol assessment is the measure of the concentration of alcohol vapour in the subjects expired breath, a measured amount of which is drawn from the mouthpiece into the device.

The Use of Breathalysers

The use of alcohol breathalyzer units in the workplace has become a popular method of testing for alcohol intoxication. Many organisations now routinely use personal hand held devices as a fast and simple way to check employee sobriety as they enter the workplace, random testing or following an incident.

Effects of alcohol may vary between individuals and the rate at which an individual absorbs alcohol into the body and bloodstream. Many factors can play a role in the rate at which the body absorbs alcohol.

Australian Standard

AS 3547:1997 is the Australian Standard for breath alcohol testing

Collection Methods

Passive Mode

When conducting an breath alcohol test, a variety of methods can be used. Many industries including building and construction have introduced a 100% testing format when arriving at the workplace and use the procedure known as passive mode collection.
This method involves the donor talking into the device whilst held close to their mouth, it may include speaking their name or counting numbers e.g. 1 to 15.

Once the breathalyzer has completed analyzing it will indicate a result as PASS or FAIL. If the result is a pass (no alcohol present) then the donor can continue to work.

Active Mode

If the breathalyzer indicates a result as FAIL, then the donor will be required to repeat the test in the active mode collection immediately. This method involves the collector switching the test mode to ACTIVE and to attach a mouthpiece/straw to the device.

The collector should carefully pull the plastic strip cover back and insert the straw/tube to the device, leaving about an inch of wrapper over the end of the straw/tube that the donor will place in their mouth. This will provide confidence that the straw/tube is hygienic and not contaminated.

Testing in active mode will return a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) percentage reading e.g. a BAC of 0.045% would mean the donor has some alcohol in their system, but is under the legal driving limit in Australia of 0.050%.

Updated on February 9, 2021

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