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Safety conscious or police state? The great safety debate

Safety first sign with grass

In the national debate about whether businesses have the right to conduct measures such as alcohol and drug tests on employees, one business owner has a unique point of view: breathtesting his customers.

What business could possibly require such a measure of its customers? BridgeClimb Sydney – the operator of treks up and around the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

“Alcohol is really important and it’s one of the things that probably changed over time,” explains the company’s founder Paul Cave.


“Hydration … is a huge thing on the bridge. People will frequently come from an aeroplane and they’ve either drunk alcohol, too much, or they’re dehydrated.

“When you’re climbing the bridge, you’ve got to be hydrated.”

But hydration and alcohol aren’t the same thing, and as Paul explains, climbing the bridge while under the influence of alcohol presents a safety risk to yourself as well as others on the tour.

“Our role is not as a policeman, our role is to protect our customer,” he says.

Of course, that can present difficulties in the instance of people blowing a positive reading for alcohol, or trying to refrain from taking the test.

For Paul, this is simply an exercise in communication and problem solving with the relevant customer.



“It’s always about the safety of the person climbing,” he says.

“And it’s always expressed in a way. No one ever fails anything with us – they pass things or we find a solution for them.

“Our approach is always about how you find a solution and minimising embarrassment and dealing with people with all sorts of issues … Whether it’s a celebrity or not, they’re people that we've got to relate to and find a way to communicate with in a safe way, which is in their interest.”

Check out more insights from the iconic BridgeClimb business and its founder on the My Business Podcast below:

Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016. 

The two-time Publish Awards finalist has an extensive journalistic career across business, property and finance, including a four-year stint in the UK. Email Adam at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Safety conscious or police state? The great safety debate
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