Recently we were asked by a U.S. company revising it’s policy whether there is any precedent for setting workplace blood-alcohol levels at 0.04 for purposes of determining impairment in the U.S. or internationally.

The answer? Sure there is. Setting the level at 0.04 is the most common action level for law-enforcement purposes of determining intoxication but impairment can and does occur in most people below that level. In fact, 0.01 is permissible for terminations if the company’s policy says no alcohol use during work time and/or company premises. A little draconian, perhaps, but permissible. The basis of employee termination is then violation of company policy – not a perceived alcohol problem.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulation “prohibits you from allowing a driver with an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater to perform any safety-sensitive functions until he/she has been evaluated by and SAP (Substance Abuse Professional) and has passed a return-to-duty test. A driver with an alcohol concentration of 0.02 or greater, but less than 0.04 must be removed from duty for 24 hours.”

More information from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is available at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety-security/safety-initiatives/drugs/chap07.htm.