South African Mines Make Strides in Safety with 100% Employee Alcohol Testing

Mine safety can be significantly improved through the use of the purpose-developed Lifeloc Sentinel automatic breathe alcohol testing system.  “It is fast, accurate, cost effective and capable of performing 360 tests per hour versus traditional handheld testers which operate at a rate of about 60 persons per hour,” says Michael Crossland, product manager of PSA, exclusive South African distributors of the product.

Using the Lifeloc Sentinel, PSA’s mining customers screen 100% of employees entering the site versus a previous random testing rate of just 30%. Approximately 2 000 employees are routinely screened through five turnstiles daily without bottlenecks at one particular mine. The Lifeloc Sentinel’s colour LCD screen guides employees effortlessly through testing.

Internationally recognized colour icons prompt users to blow into the entry port and the two second test is triggered automatically. There is no mouthpiece to cause any health concerns or add to testing costs.

Test recovery time between subjects is immediate on negative (no alcohol) results and less than 20 seconds on positives. To simplify operations further, the device can be connected to a card swipe machine or other biometric devices that monitor employee timecards. Test results are instantly relayed to the access control system to allow or deny entry.

The system requires no employee or supervisor training and no intervention by security staffs that then gets redeployed elsewhere on site. Service and device calibration can be performed in situ, eliminating the need to return the device to the factory for maintenance.

The Sentinel is now used extensively in SA mines and other safety-sensitive industries looking to take their safety performance to the next level. It provides automated ‘zero tolerance’ breathe testing and suits the diversity and large employee population of the local mining industry well,” said Crossland.

PSA worked hand-in-hand with Lifeloc in the development of the new generation passive screener in a quest to satisfy client requests for a fixed breathalyser system linked to an access control system.

The South African market is flooded with cheap, mass produced handheld breathalysers that can be purchased online, but according to Crossland the majority of customers choose Lifeloc because of their reliability.  Safety sensitive environments cannot afford to mess around with questionable results.

Lifeloc plans to continue working with PSA to co-develop products for targeted market needs. Next on the horizon is an enhanced Sentinel with data logging and ‘boom entry’ applications for vehicles.

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