Original Research

Wokers’ awareness of alcohol breathalyser test in the workplace and their alcohol consumption patterns

Vusi Mthimkhulu, Hugo D. van der Walt
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 19 | a1627 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v19i0.1627 | © 2021 Vusi Mthimkhulu, Hugo D. van der Walt | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 April 2021 | Published: 22 July 2021

About the author(s)

Vusi Mthimkhulu, Department of Psychology, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Hugo D. van der Walt, Institute for Open and Distance Learning, College of Education, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


Orientation: An alcohol breathalyser test is one of various methods of assessing alcohol consumption behaviour of workers in the workplace. Its awareness can yield insights on behavioural change of alcohol-consuming individuals in safety-sensitive settings when being aware of alcohol breathalyser testing.

Research purpose: A breathalyser test provides an efficient means of measuring blood alcohol concentration within seconds of an employee blowing into the device. The purpose of this research was to examine awareness of breathalyser testing to capture meaning that can offer insights on behaviour under research.

Motivation for research: The research was prompted by a quest to gain understanding of thought processes (motivation to control behaviour) when alcohol is involved. By focusing on awareness, it was possible to interpret behaviour. The research is a basis for future studies and can contribute to discussions related to alcohol testing in the workplace.

Research approach/design and method: A qualitative approach was followed to gain insights into the topic under research. Eight alcohol-consuming individuals who performed jobs considered high-risk consented to participate in semi-structured, face-to-face interviews. The data were analysed through interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA).

Main findings: The findings revealed excessive alcohol consumption and intoxication in spite of awareness of breathalyser testing. Individuals prone to external inducements were more likely to abuse alcohol. Behaviour therefore tends to be unstable and impulsive when alcohol is involved.

Practical implications: Reporting for work after excessive drinking of alcohol is not an indication of total soberness. Individuals may physically be present in the workplace without making any contribution to work processes because of effects of alcohol.

Contribution/value-add: The research highlights behavioural insights that can contribute to studies related to locus of control and control over alcohol in relation to testing to workplace testing.


behavioural change; breathalyser testing; effects of alcohol; inducements; locus of control; workplace testing


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