Original Research

Exploring the relevancy of random and scheduled alcohol breathalyser testing in high-risk jobs within safety-sensitive work settings

Vusi Mthimkhulu, Hugo D. van der Walt
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 19 | a1632 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v19i0.1632 | © 2021 Vusi Mthimkhulu, Hugo D. van der Walt | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 April 2021 | Published: 23 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 of Open and Distance Learning Research Unit, College of Education, University of South Africa, South Africa


Orientation: Workplace testing is seen as a viable method in monitoring alcohol intoxication in the workplace. This article explored lived experiences of random and scheduled alcohol breathalyser testing to gain insights into meaning and understanding of the phenomenon under study.

Research purpose: Random and scheduled testing are preferred techniques of assessing intoxication in the workplace. This article set to gain insights into whether behaviour can have an influence on the effectiveness of random and scheduled testing. The information can contribute to the ongoing debate on the efficacy of workplace testing and lays groundwork for future studies.

Motivation for the study: Emergent data seem to suggest that the success of workplace testing in preventing alcohol and substance use in the workplace is indecisive.

Research approach/design and method: A qualitative method was employed to collect data from eight alcohol-consuming individuals who performed jobs considered safety-sensitive through semi-structured interviews. Data were analysed through the application of an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA).

Main findings: Findings revealed incidents of alcohol intoxication within the workplace in spite of random and scheduled testing in place. There seems to be a disregard for rules that prohibit intoxication in the workplace. Money bribes seem to enable cheating on testing in the workplace. Behaviour undercuts the goal of an alcohol-free workplace.

Practical implications: Behaviour stemming from on-site intoxication and cheating on alcohol tests hinders on the goal of attaining an alcohol-free workplace.

Contribution/value-add: The analysis of behaviour could contribute to the ongoing debate regarding the efficacy of workplace testing.


alcohol-free workplace; cheating on alcohol tests; high-risk jobs; on-site intoxication; random and scheduled testing safety-sensitive; alcohol breathalyser testing; cheating on alcohol test; safety-sensitive environment


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Crossref Citations

1. Negotiating Safety: Facilitation of Return to Work for Individuals Employed in High-Risk Occupations
Elena Neiterman, Ellen MacEachen, Ekaterina McKnight, Meghan Kathleen Crouch, Karolina Kaminska, Cindy Malachowski, Pam Hopwood
Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation  year: 2024  
doi: 10.1007/s10926-024-10189-9