A new workplace drug testing law went into effect this week that lowers the allowed workplace blood alcohol standard from 0.04 percent to 0.02 percent.

The move brings Iowa in line with federal law, which Sukup Manufacturing’s Rachel Geilenfeld says clears up the issues for employers. “There was some lack of clarity on whether the employer could take appropriate disciplinary action against those employees,” Geilenfeld says. “So essentially if they fell in that gap our only recourse was to send them home with pay.”

Geilenfeld presented data on how a worker is impacted under the two standards as she lobbied the Iowa Legislature to make the change. “And there is data that supports that at the 0.02 percent blood alcohol content level somebody’s impairment is at a much lower level than 0.04 percent including certain tasks they can perform,” Geilenfeld says.

The new law passed by wide margins in the Iowa House and Senate. Geilenfeld says an earlier attempt to approve the change failed under a divided legislature back in 2015.

(Thanks to Jyce Russell, Iowa Public Radio)