Tried and tested

Tried and tested

Alcohol testing equipment has come a long way since the units of yesteryear. We chat with Quinton Taylor, marketing manager of safety consumables and impairment checks at Dräger South Africa, to gain more insight into the company’s monitoring equipment.

Dräger has seven decades of experience in the field of alcohol testing, having brought its first alcohol device into the market in 1953. The company entered the industry after it was scientifically proven in the 1920s and 30s that breath samples could verify blood alcohol content. Dräger then developed a tube with a chemical reagent that reacted to ethanol via a breath sample.

What are your most popular alcohol testing units, and why?

Drӓger’s current A7000, with Bluetooth capabilities, is extremely popular. This unit allows the operator to print a result within seconds, on a thermal paper application guaranteed to not fade within 10 years.

How has alcohol testing technology changed over time?

Alcohol testing technology has changed from a chemical reagent tube to advanced electrochemical and infrared optical sensors to measure ethanol. These are used, for example, in the Dräger evidential 9510ZA.

What should companies consider before they purchase alcohol testing equipment?

Companies need to develop and incorporate an internal alcohol policy based on the testing of employees and visitors entering the complex. This policy needs to have buy-in from both employees and unions.

An effective policy will incorporate two tests per individual where alcohol may have been detected, with a minimum 15-minute interval between the two tests. This eliminates the possibility of a false positive alcohol reading due to mouthwash containing alcohol.

Taking this into consideration, the company needs to look at a supplier offering a full backup service that includes accuracy calibration, as well as training for the personnel conducting the tests. This training should encompass how the alcohol detector functions, including how alcohol is absorbed and eliminated from the body.

What should customers keep in mind and/or do after making a purchase?

Training should ideally be given to employees on the dangers involved in consuming alcohol. Once again, this should incorporate how alcohol is absorbed, digested, and eliminated from the human body.

Are there any trends within this sector that excite you?

Dräger will be implementing an app where alcohol readings can be immediately transferred from the A7000 to a smartphone via Bluetooth. This will include GPS coordinates for each test conducted, with statistical data that can be set up as per a customer’s requirements.

Do you offer any additional services with regard to alcohol testing?

We offer a full training, certification, and backup service for each A7000 supplied.

What does the future hold for alcohol testing technology?

Dräger South Africa is currently rolling out an evidential breath alcohol detector, the 9510 ZA, to all metro and provincial traffic departments. This works with an electrochemical and infrared optical sensor. Two breath samples will be required from any individual found driving under the influence of alcohol. Should the final reading be higher than 0.24mg/l the individual will be prosecuted; a blood test will not be required.

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SHEQ Management

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