Bovis is introducing random alcohol checks. Is this progress or a rights infringement?
Any form of spot check can only be a good thing. Alcohol is a particular concern for plant operators, as anyone in charge of machinery can be potentially lethal. I don’t feel the 29 milligram [per 100ml of blood] minimum is too low either. If people think the test tolerance levels are too low, think about pilots – they have a 48-hour drinking ban before they’re allowed in the cockpit. However, administering the tests could be a problem. We’ve run spot checks in the past and employees we suspect of being drunk refuse to take the test. It can also be a problem with subcontractors and indirect labour.
Paul Corner, site manager, Morrison Construction
The issue of operatives and drugs or alcohol testing on site in principle is good, although the limit being tabled is too low. It could pick up anybody who had a glass of wine with their meal in the evening. But if implemented, it should apply to all personnel on site, be they QSs or canteen staff, not just trade operatives. What about directors who go out on business lunches with clients, are they facing alcohol tests?
And in business, how far do you take this, as any drug-induced impairment is a health and safety risk. Should it include smoking because of the effects of nicotine on the body?
Mike Smith, director, Corniche Builders
In my view a zero tolerance to alcohol and drugs should be every contractor’s policy. If it means people have to be more careful about what they drink outside of work, then that’s fine. It could mean one less accident or fatality. I used to work with Balfour Beatty on the London Underground where they were incredibly strict about alcohol, and it sounds like Bovis has taken things another step further. It’s only through forward-thinking best practice initiatives like this, which exceed legislative requirements, that we can challenge outdated attitudes to health and safety.
Shaun Davis, group director of safety, health, environment & quality, Rok
This is a good move on Bovis’s part. Alcohol can be a serious problem on sites, particularly with people operating plant or machinery where a lapse in concentration can have catastrophic consequences. I’m not sure if it affects everyone or just the trades, but if that’s the case it shouldn’t be seen as an unfair penalisation, as by nature their work is more hazardous. I see their jobs as equivalent to bus and train drivers who are responsible for many people’s lives. As well as spot tests, education is also important so people are aware of the affects of alcohol, know the limits and understand the dangers.
Samuel During, director, Project & Development Consultants