March 23, 2020 / 6:10 PM / 11 days ago

Some Russian steel producers suspend alcohol tests amid coronavirus

MOSCOW, March 23 (Reuters) - Some of Russia’s biggest steel producers have suspended alcohol tests for employees because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Many Russian heavy industrial plants have installed breathalyser devices at workplaces in recent years as a health and safety measure to check whether workers have been drinking.

But with the possibility that the virus could be spread via surfaces touched by many people, some firms have suspended use of the devices - often small frames on which a worker breathes and receives a pass or fail in seconds.

Severstal, a major steel producer, said it had suspended all of its devices, replacing them with “alternative procedures with a lower risk of spreading infection”.

It said these alternative procedures would involve random staff checks. NLMK, Russia’s biggest steel producer, taken similar steps.

“Factory workers and subcontractor employees are no longer required to pass breathalyser tests, though security guards will be controlling the situation visually,” NLMK said in a statement.

Evraz, a steel and coal producer, said it had suspended checking breath for alcohol until the end of March. (Reporting by Olesya Astakhova, Writing by Polina Ivanova, Editing by Andrew Osborn and Timothy Heritage)

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