Did you know that the Department of Transportation (DOT) employs almost 55,000 people across the country to enforce regulations and ensure employees in safety-sensitive positions are safe and sober at all times? To achieve this objective, a significant emphasis is placed on regulations specific to the use or abuse of drugs and alcohol. This drug-free workplace program has greatly reduced the DOT’s number of accidents and crashes related to drug and alcohol use.
DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing
There are twelve agencies within the Department of Transportation, and all DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations apply to employees in safety-sensitive positions covered by these agencies. For example, the following tasks are described as safety sensitive: working on pipelines, driving a truck over certain weight limits, operating a ferry or train, and repairing an airplane. The regulations target these activities to protect the employees involved, their coworkers, and the traveling public.
These are the twelve agencies of the DOT:
- Office of the Secretary (OST)
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
- Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
- Office of Inspector General (OIG)
- Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
- Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
- Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
- Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC)
- Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
- Surface Transportation Board (STB)
- Maritime Administration (MARAD)
The DOT requires all of these agencies to train employers and test employees on the misuse of drugs and alcohol. The employer is typically required to provide employees with both educational materials and a company policy that explains DOT drug and alcohol testing requirements, as well as the procedures implemented by the company. Safety-sensitive employees are prohibited from the following:
- Using or possessing alcohol or illicit drugs while assigned to perform safety-sensitive activities or actually performing safety-sensitive activities
- Reporting for service or remaining on duty while under the influence of alcohol or having a blood alcohol concentration of .04 or greater
- Reporting for service or remaining on duty after using an illicit drug
- Using alcohol within four hours of reporting for service or after receiving a notice to report for service
- Reporting for duty or remaining on duty when using any controlled substance
- Refusing to submit to a drug or alcohol test
- Refusing to submit to a drug or alcohol test by adulterating or substituting your specimen
Safety-sensitive employees may be subject to drug or alcohol testing during six different situations: pre-employment, reasonable suspicion, random, return-to-duty, follow-up, and post-accident. During these evaluations, the DOT tests for five different types of drugs: marijuana metabolites/THC, cocaine metabolites, amphetamines, opiates, and phencyclidine.
Employees do not need to worry about using medications prescribed by a licensed physician and taken at the prescribed dosage. However, to ensure that using the substance at the prescribed dosage will be safe, it is recommended that you provide your physician with a complete and detailed description of your position and duties.
In addition, each agency has distinct rules for employers. For example, these are the requirements of the FMCSA:
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA):
According to Part 382.601 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, the employer has an obligation to “promulgate” (i.e., promote or make widely known) a policy on the misuse of alcohol and the use of controlled substances. To achieve this, the employer should provide educational materials that explain their policies and procedures. This information must be given to employees prior to the performance of safety-sensitive duties, and the employer should also provide written notice to representatives of employee organizations to alert them to the information’s availability.
The materials distributed to drivers must include the following required content:
- The name of the employer’s designated representative to answer questions
- The categories of drivers subject to the provisions
- When a driver is required to be compliant
- Specific information regarding prohibited driver conduct
- The circumstances for testing (e.g., random, post-accident, etc.)
- The procedures and safeguards for testing and confidentiality
- The requirement that a driver submit to testing
- The explanation of what constitutes a refusal to test and the consequences
- Consequences and protocols for a positive drug test
- Consequences for drivers with an alcohol concentration less than 0.04 but greater than 0.02
- Information on the effects of drug and alcohol
*Including information on the company drug-free workplace program is an optional provision. Employers must ensure that drivers sign a statement confirming that they have received the materials described above, and the employer must keep a copy of the certificate of receipt.
To learn more about each administration’s DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations, visit the administrations’ websites. Links to these regulations can be found online at www.dot.gov/odapc.
If you’re looking to implement a drug-free workplace through pre-employment or random drug and alcohol testing, contact Employee Screening Services. With offices in Springfield, St. Louis, and Kansas City, Missouri, and Indianapolis, Indiana, we offer customized solutions to make drug testing simple, and our nationwide network of clinics and onsite providers allows ESS to be available anytime, anywhere. We also provide education sessions for DOT employers and employees. For a free needs analysis or more information, give us a call today at 1-888-379-7697 or contact us online. We would be happy to help!