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Fingerprint Scanner Tests Workers for Booze

A new device measuring BAC could soon become commonplace at the office.

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A rough night could lead to an even rougher
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By McCarton Ackerman

04/23/13

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Drug testing is common practice at many workplaces, and now companies are starting to test for booze as well. The new AlcoSense TruTouch scanner, introduced on the market earlier this month, uses fingerprints to measure blood alcohol content in the skin and gives a reading within eight seconds. Several major US companies, including the Coca-Cola factory, have already started using the device; in the UK, the transport and security industries, as well as public sector staff in local government, may soon adopt it too. But British workers' unions have slammed the tactic, claiming that problem drinkers should be helped rather than punished. "[It's using] a sledgehammer to crack a nut," says Unison General secretary Dave Prentis. "If workers have a problem with alcohol, their employers should not be relying on a gadget to entrap them, but should be providing them with proper support." The AlcoDigital website encourages rigorous daily testing across the board, rather than random screenings in order to fully stamp out problem drinking in the workplace. "Random screening can deter the casual user, but those with a serious alcohol problem are far less likely to change their inherent behavior patterns," reads a statement on the website, "Testing every person, every day changes the the underlying behavior itself." Suzannah Robin, director of AlcoDigital, says it's important for workers to feel like they are not under attack and she encourages those who use the device to consult their staff about it first. "This way, it involves everyone from the managing director down. It's difficult to say anyone is being fingered or singled out," she says. "From our point of view, it's important that any alcohol testing policy that is brought in has the full support of employees."

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