Why do I need a
Certified Breathalyzer for testing someone else?
False Positives - the real cost.
All non-approved "Personal"
Breathalyzers will over-read to a greater or lesser
extent. The latest Fuel Cell detectors onto the market
(such as the iCharge) are far better than their
semi-conductor based predecessors but even so they will
always tend to over-read than under-read. For an
individual, this is ideal - far better to think
they are over the limit and not drive, than the other
But when used to test someone else the
results can be far more problematical.
Take the scenario where
a driver is checked by the manager in the morning before
work and according to the £50 breathalyser the
company bought from Amazon the driver is shown to be over the
limit. The Driver is sent home,
almost certainly now subject to disciplinary action -
and the company has to pay them and someone else to do
his job, while they feels agrieved at being accused of
something they're not guilty of. But the detector could easily be over-reading (as it is
designed to!) or could be mistaking mint vapour,
mouthwash or other contaminants in the sample for
The cost to the organisation? Potentially
very high. At a minimum they are a driver down for the
day and management time is taken to follow-up the
incident. But the employee is likely to suffer
considerable stress at having been falsely accused - and claims of psychological trauma can easily
run to several thousand pounds if the employer can be
shown to have used a device that was not fit for
Duty of Care - HSE Legislation
Health and Safety Legislation
obligates all organisation with a duty of care towards
their staff and customers - and it is the Directors'
responsibility to ensure that working practices are safe
and fair, that equipment provided is fit for purpose and
that the organisation does not knowingly endanger either it's
staff, customers or any other third parties.
How does that relate to a Drugs &
Alcohol Policy? Firstly the organisation must satisfy
themselves that their employees are fit for work - which
includes being sober. If an accident were to occur
caused by an employee who was under the influence of
Alcohol, the responsible manager would have to
demonstrate that they
had taken all reasonable steps to prevent such an
occurrence. In most cases this includes random Breath
Testing - but the device used for such a test must also
be capable of being shown to be accurate, consistent and
fit for purpose.
What is the likely view of a court, tribunal or the HSE
Inspectors towards an
who when asked for details
of the testing equipment in use,
has to admit to using a
low cost, non-certified self-test breathalyzer - just to
save a few pounds?
Breathalyzers are important items
of Safety & Compliance Equipment and should be purchased on that
Cost vs Accuracy & Longevity
It's not all about the intial cost;
buying a proper, made-for-the-job breathalyzer can SAVE
money in the long run. The Draeger 6510 is the entry
level for a UK Certified Breathalyzer however, when
compared to the cost of a typical "personal"
breathalyser, may well be some six times the cost.
The reason is mostly to do with accuracy but it is also
about build qualituy. They are designed to be used day in, day out
by Police Forces all over the UK and with regular
calibration (most organisations work to a 6-month
calibration schedule) in a less rigourous commercial
setting, they will last 10 years or more. Designed for the job
- ie Fit for Purpose, they satisfy HSE
compliance but they are also built to
remain in use in the harsh environment of Police work.
A typical self-test device may cost less than £100, but
it's not likely to last more than a couple of years
either. Multipy the original purchase cost by 5 -
not to mention the cost of false positives or failures -
and the certified device becomes a the more prudent
To pass certification the sensors have
to be able to consistently demonstrate their ability to
isolate Alcohol, and Alcohol alone from any other
contaminants in the breath. They are deliberately
designed assuming that the subject being tested will do
everything to achieve a false reading - from temperature
and moisture checks to exact air volume sampling.
breathalyzers may appear to do the same job as certified
devices but they are not required or capable of passing
certification for one simple reason. They are designed to be used by the
owner, and the
assumption is made that the user is doing their best to
get an accurate result..... not a false one!
As can be seen here, the sensors used on Certified Devices are
VERY different to those used in low cost devices
designed to be used for self-testing. Even when a fuel
cell is used, the vast majority (AlcoDigital 3000 excepted) use small, low-power units that
don't come close to the accuracy and reliability of
breathalysers designed to pass certification.
do cost more to buy, but
they ensure HSE compliance and in the long term will be
more reliable, last far longer and
most importantly - they ensure you don't make
accusations and you can't justify.
are companies on the Internet who advertise cheap
personal devices costing from as little as £50 as being
"ideally suited for company screening". That
may help them shift some boxes and make a tidy profit
but in over ten
years we have never over-sold our products or misled our
customers; it is one reason why we have over 15,000
satisfied customers from the past few years alone and
why almost 20% of our business last year was either
personal recommendations or repeat business. We will
honest about what you can expect to achieve from the
device you buy, even if we lose the sale.
an unsuitable device may seem a useful saving initially,
but the cost of a single false positive result, or worse
still an incident not picked up by a faulty or
inconsistent device could be far greater.
Contact us for further assistance choosing the right
device for you needs.