Antonio Visconti, Founder & CEO
Workplace drug testing is a standard practice for many safety-sensitive companies with the objective of preventing accidents by not employing drug users.
While drug testing is certainly effective in screening the most egregious cases of drug users that fail a pre-employment test, the practice has known limitations: drug tests only detect past drug use and only for the specific illicit drugs the test is designed for, completely ignoring other causes of workplace impairment risk like prescription medications, alcohol, and fatigue.
Furthermore, the legalization of recreational marijuana in 9 states and medical marijuana in 29 states is definitely challenging the status quo. After alcohol, marijuana is the most commonly used drug in the workplace. More than 80 percent of regular drug users in the workplace use marijuana, and marijuana and alcohol are frequently taken together.
In sectors such as construction, mining, manufacturing, and transportation, being under the influence can lead to tragic consequences, exposing employers to enormous liabilities and employees to injuries or death.
“The number of workers and jobseekers testing positive for marijuana is at a 14-year peak. Despite many years of drug testing policies in place, workplace drug use is at an all-time high, clearly indicating its ineffectiveness. There had to be a better way!” says Antonio Visconti, the founder, and CEO of SOBEREYE, a CA-based corporation that offers a testing and monitoring service to evaluate the risk of impairment in the workplace.
Developed with research from neuroscience, ophthalmology, iris recognition, and image processing, the SOBEREYE technology measures alterations of the Pupillary Light Reflex (PLR)—the pupil reaction to changing light intensity—for impairment risk detection from alcohol, drugs, sleep deprivation, and other high-risk neurological conditions. Unlike a drug test that can only reveal past substance use, SOBEREYE can detect impairment risk from any cause.
The patent-protected technology uses a smartphone and an opaque enclosure or visor to capture videos of the eye and evaluates impairment risk by measuring an individual’s PLR alterations. The device, with its iris recognition capabilities, identifies users and allows them to self-test remotely and without supervision. Considering that PLR differs from person to person, SOBEREYE initially establishes a baseline for each individual and compares it with new PLR measurements to detect PLR alterations. The test takes a minute, the result is shown on the device screen and shared in real-time with a web-based dashboard for the employer. Managers and supervisors can also customize their dashboard as per requirements to effectively manage and monitor their workforce and stay informed on their alertness and fitness-for-duty.
With such real-time impairment monitoring, organizations can reduce the risk of accidents with significant human and financial benefits.
In a case study, a corporate taxi services company with numerous drivers across the country, adopted SOBEREYE to reduce the chances of impaired drivers at work. The company made it mandatory for drivers to take the test before their shift begins. Drivers were instructed not to proceed if the SOBEREYE test result was High-Risk of impairment. Seven months into the implementation, the company analyzed the drivers’ test reports and figured that the High-Risk result rate decreased significantly and constantly month over month. The data showed that over time, the drivers themselves were addressing the underlining causes of the High-Risk result and constantly reduce its occurrence. SOBEREYE promotes a shift in the narrative from ‘We are a drug-free workplace’ that requires a policing attitude to ‘We are an impairment free workplace’ that is implemented in cooperation with the workforce.
“SOBEREYE is a subscription-based service. We provide the testing devices and cloud-based software dashboard to manage testing and monitor impairment risks at workplaces,” says Visconti. Since its inception, SOBEREYE has successfully helped many companies ensure that workers are safe and fit to perform duties. “Impairment risk testing shall become a standard practice for all safety-sensitive companies to minimize workplace accidents and save lives. We are on a mission to deliver the most effective, trusted and broadly adopted solution to measure impairment risk in the workplace,” concludes Visconti.