Fit for duty?

Random drug and alcohol screenings may strike fear into the hearts of liberal minded employees but a number of products exist to disguise the effects of an evening or weekend lost to illegal or unsociable excesses.

Such products could soon become redundant, however, with the development of SafetyScope, a new technology from US company Eye Dynamics, which has been designed for non-invasive ‘fitness-for-duty’ screening of workers.

Traditional drug and alcohol tests taken from employees in the form of urine samples can take days to complete, which is too late for detecting a problem on the day it occurs.

SafetyScope uses a beam of light to test the human eye for the purpose of evaluating an individual for impairment related to drugs, diseases, fatigue or other conditions that may pose a threat to on-the-job safety and can make an accurate assessment in around 90 seconds.

‘An employee looks into SafetyScope and focuses on a moving beam of light,’ said Chuck Philips, CEO of Eye Dynamics. ‘A video camera records the action, and software analyses eye movement and pupil dilation and renders a verdict on whether there’s any impairment.’

According to Eye Dynamics, the system does not require bodily fluids such as blood or urine and offers employers advantages over traditional drug tests, in that the system can detect on-the-spot impairment and results are immediate.

Deaths caused by driving whilst impaired account for 38 percent of all driving deaths each year in the US. Fatigue is the second only to alcohol as a cause of vehicle-related deaths. At least four percent of all crashes are caused by drowsy drivers.

‘One of the major goals of SafetyScope is to keep a work environment safe by screening workers of physiological signs of impairment, akin to the roadside test used by law enforcement,’ said Ron Waldorf, the system’s designer. ‘Occupations in the medical, aviation, emergency response, manufacturing and transportation businesses are key markets for this technology.’

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