Workplace testing: cutting risk and costs

Rhys Evans

If driving under the influence is a reason for insurers to reject claims for vehicle accidents, can drug and alcohol testing programmes be used by businesses to reduce cover premiums for their vehicle fleets? Insurance companies are always looking for ways to reduce their risk.

One way to do this is by charging higher premiums to businesses that have a higher risk of accidents. Any organisation with a large fleet of delivery vehicles is a greater risk, purely from a numbers’ perspective.

By regularly testing drivers for drugs and alcohol, businesses can identify and remove drivers who are a risk to themselves and others, with this translating into lower insurance premiums.

 Legislative context for workplace testing

When considering commercial drivers, the Occupational Health and Safety Act requires employers to take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of their employees, which includes ensuring that employees are not under the influence of alcohol or drugs while working. The Road Traffic Act  defines “driving under the influence” as having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05% or more while prohibiting driving while under the influence of drugs.

 Severe legal and commercial consequences

Liability for a road accident caused by an occupational driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs will depend on the specific circumstances of the accident but in general, the driver can be held liable for the accident if found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Additionally, the employer can be held liable for the accident if they knew or should have known that the driver was under the influence and failed to take steps to prevent the accident. Furthermore, such accidents can have significant business consequences: financial losses due to liability for damages, potential legal fees, and increased insurance rates.

 From awareness to action: practical risk mitigation

To mitigate these risks businesses should have a strict workplace policy that clearly outlines their stance on driving and consuming intoxicating substances.  Several significant South African logistics and delivery companies have started a pilot programme for mandatory testing.  Such testing is unmanned and automated, simply requiring the mounting of a testing device to a wall at a depot location.

 Safety is in numbers

Using these analytics, it is possible to identify problematic drivers for rehabilitation purposes. This data can be used for auditory purposes by the relevant labour inspector checking safety compliance and can easily be presented to an insurance provider to petition for and justify a reduction in insurance premiums.


  • Evans is the managing director of ALCO-Safe

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