F E AT U R E
Unanswered questions remain for both
employers and their employees as marijuana
legalization in Canada has arrived.
How do both parties navigate what could
be controversial waters when it comes to an
employers’ rights, an employees’ right to privacy,
the potential for confrontations and what
the law says?
One unbiased answer, Randal Roberts
believes, can be found in SafetyScan.
It’s a real time, fit-for-duty screener that
tests a person’s psychomotor impairment for
alcohol, drugs and cognitive fatigue.
Employers, especially those in the construction
industry, are using SafetyScan to
help determine whether employees are fit to
carry out their expected duties on the job.
Infrared cameras inside the microwavesized
machine assess involuntary movements
of the eyes, similar to how police conduct
simple roadside sobriety tests. Officers will
observe how a person’s eyes move by asking
them to follow the path of a flashlight, finger
“What they’re looking for is distinctive
and involuntary movement of the eyes,” said
Roberts, president and CEO of SafetyScan
Technologies, a Sherwood Park, Alta.-based
company. “In the case of alcohol, they see what
is termed ‘horizontal nystagmus.’ It’s a beady
movement of the eyes where the eyes are jerking
from side to side. When you’re impaired by
alcohol, you can’t stop that from happening.
It’s an involuntary reflex, an impairment of
your psychomotor skills.”
SafetyScan is a simple test that is looking
for indications of that sort, like dilated pupils
and eyes not moving as fast as they should
be. The knowledge from this test is gained
through a software algorithm that is put into
motion during the 30-second testing period
that watches how the eyes move.
But can it detect impairment from drugs
– most notably, marijuana? Absolutely. There
is a lot of overlap in the signs of impairment
between alcohol and pot.
“It doesn’t matter what is causing the
impairment. It has the same effect on our
brain and our responses,” said Roberts. “Our
system is sensitive to anything.”
SafetyScan is uniquely different than the
usual blood and urine testing. One problem
with urine-based drug testing is it’s always
looking back in time. Also, it doesn’t measure
impairment. It picks up traces of the metabolite
of the drug, so if you’re a regular user but
haven’t used it in a couple of weeks, there
might be enough of it in your system that you
would fail a drug test.
“That’s the crux of the problem with
marijuana being legalized,” said Roberts.
“It’s a legal substance now and the worker
is potentially doing it on his or her own
time. How does a company keep the workplace
safe but respect worker privacy at the
aboikis / 123RF
is an easy,
By Craig Slater,
ALBERTA HEAVY 2018 51