The days of using pot at work could be coming to an end, thanks to portable headsets being rolled out that track an employee’s eye movements and assess whether they are actively high.
The makers of the $399-per-month devices, known as Gaize, say they are already on order to big manufacturing, transport, energy and mining firms, while some US police forces are considering using them to test motorists.
The devices are essentially virtual reality headsets with eye-tracking sensors that measure tiny movements — an automated version of the tests cops already perform on those suspected of driving under the influence of drugs.
They are easy to operate, tests take about six minutes to complete, and they could reach some workplaces by the end of the year, the makers say.
Peter Wojewnik, a partner at dicentra, the research firm that tested out the headsets on 350 participants, said they were a ‘novel method for detecting active impairment’ that could ‘improve safety both on the road and in the workplace’.
Saliva, blood or breath tests can already detect cannabis use, but the psychoactive ingredient THC remains in the body for weeks, making the eye movement test the first simple method for assessing whether an individual is actively high.
It’s not known exactly how many people are high at work, but about a third of employees surveyed last year by the National Safety Council said they’d seen colleagues with cannabis in the workplace.
The share was much higher in certain industries, with 45 percent of construction workers and half of miners reporting cannabis use on the job, according to the survey of 1,000 US workers.
The National Drug-Free Workplace Alliance, an advocacy group, says drug use costs US firms billions of dollars each year in everything from lost productivity to workplace accidents and injuries, absenteeism, and low morale.
Cops could also use the devices on suspected stoned motorists, much as breathalyzers do for alcohol. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that a fifth of weekend drivers at night have drugs in their system.
Ken Fichtler, CEO of the Montana-based startup, told DailyMail.com of ‘evaluations scheduled with some of the most prominent law enforcement departments’ in the country.
‘Our pre-order list includes major companies in manufacturing, transportation, oil and gas, and mining and metallurgy at this point, with more signing up every day,’ Fichtler said.
The headsets raise legal issues about testing employees for pot, which is now legal in much of the country. Drug testing laws vary by state, but bosses can generally test staff suspected of being high, especially those who operate equipment.
Voters in Maryland and Missouri this month approved midterm election ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana for adults, while those in Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota rejected similar measures.