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Myers' bill would allow employers to give breathalyzer tests

February 02, 2005|by TAMELA BAKER

tammyb@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS - Employers would have new tools for dealing with employees who report for work while under the influence of drugs or alcohol if the General Assembly approves a bill sponsored by Del. LeRoy E. Myers, R-Washington/Allegany.

Myers' bill would allow employers to test workers suspected of drug or alcohol use on the job, and permit employers to use breathalyzer tests on those suspected of using alcohol.

Current law only allows for random testing by private businesses, and only allows urine, blood and hair testing for those not regulated by the federal Department of Transportation, Myers said.

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Citing breath alcohol testing as the most widely accepted method of alcohol testing, Myers said it is the best way to determine whether a worker is affected to the point where it is unsafe to work.

Alcohol can still be detected in urine after its effects have worn off, and blood testing is invasive and time consuming, he said.

"This is proactive when it comes to saving lives and reducing injury," Myers said, noting that the legislation is an attempt to deal with a problem before it becomes a danger.

When a work-related accident does occur, he said, the first thing the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health office and workers' compensation officials do is order drug and alcohol testing.

Myers said he hopes that if passed, the legislation would lower insurance and workers' compensation costs for employers.

He's also sponsoring a bill that would allow automobile dealerships to conduct emissions inspections on newer vehicles equipped with computer recorders. Myers said the recorders make traditional emissions tests unnecessary.

The dealers would collect the $14 test fee and pass it on to the state, he said.

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