Employers want their employees to be alcohol-free when they come to work, but ensuring that they actually are can be a challenge. The problem is one of detection: how can you tell whether somebody has been abusing alcohol? It turns out that there is a chemical marker called EtG – otherwise known as Ethyl Glucuronide – that reveals whether a person has been drinking or not, even if there is no ethanol in their bloodstream. EtG is a metabolite of alcohol consumption and is present in the urine long after any remaining blood alcohol is measurable.
Benefits Of EtG Tests
EtG has a large number of benefits. The first is that it provides a more accurate record of recent alcohol consumption, and for a longer period of time than standard tests. This makes it perfect for situations in which an industry has a zero tolerance or abstinence policy. EtG metabolites can remain in the urine for up to four days, meaning that the detection window is longer, potentially saving companies money. Then there is the fact that EtG only results from the direct consumption of alcohol, whereas ethanol can be detected in the blood both as a consequence of alcohol consumption as well as the fermentation of fruit and vegetables in the intestines. This means that there is a much lower chance of false positives – situations in which a person is deemed to have consumed an alcoholic beverage, even though they haven’t.
Finally, EtG tests can be carried out on the same urine sample without interfering with other tests that an employer might want to conduct. Drug tests and EtG tests may be performed concurrently.
Which Industries Use EtG Tests?
Of course, the benefit of EtG tests tend to be highest in those industries which are most safety sensitive. These industries include things like mining and construction, as well as any transport and logistics. Making sure that workers remain alcohol-free in these environments is essential. What is interesting about this is that those industries that have the highest on-the-job risks also tend to be those that see the highest rate of alcohol abuse, enhancing the case for doing EtG tests. According to Joanne Sprecher, a treatment consultant at The Discovery House in Southern California, alcohol abuse is a well-known problem in heavy industry, and more than 15 percent of workers in mining and construction have some type of alcohol abuse issues. She also points out that heavy industries are not the only industries in which alcohol abuse is a problem. Others include the arts, entertainment, recreation and food services industries. But these industries don’t carry the same high level of on-the-job risks.
Why EtG Tests Are Preferable
EtG tests are generally preferably for companies in terms of both cost and efficacy. The fact that alcohol can be detected many days after initial ingestion means that companies are more likely to catch people who do have alcohol issues which they try to conceal. In addition, alcohol tests don’t need to be carried out on a daily basis means that costs to businesses are lower.