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What Employees Need To Know About DOT Alcohol & Drug Testing. Part 1.

Just entering the transportation industry? Performing tasks defined by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) as safety-sensitive, such as working on pipelines, driving a truck, operating a ferry, steering a train or repairing an airplane? Then, you are subject to DOT workplace drug & alcohol testing. Here are the basics you need to know about DOT’s program.

 

Who is subject to DOT testing?
Anyone designated in DOT regulations as a safety-sensitive employee is subject to DOT drug & alcohol testing. What follows is an overview of what
jobs are defined as safety-sensitive functions subject to testing.

 

Aviation FAA
Flight crews, flight attendants, flight instructors, air traffic controllers at facilities not operated by the FAA or under contract to the U.S. military, aircraft dispatchers, aircraft maintenance or preventative maintenance personnel, ground security coordinators and aviation screeners. Direct or contract employees of I4 CFR Part 121 or 135 certificate holders, Section 91.147 operators and air traffic control facilities not operated by the FAA or under contract to the US Military. See FAA regulations at 14 CFR Part 121 Appendices I & J.

 

Commercial Motor Carriers FMCSA
Commercial Drivers License (CDL) holders who operate Commercial Motor Vehicles, 26,001 lbs. gvwr. or greater, or operate a vehicle that carries 16 passengers or more including the driver, or required to display a DOT placard in the transportation of hazardous material.See FMCSA regulation at 49 CFR Part 382.

 

Maritime USCG2
Crewmembers operating a commercial vessel.See USCG regulations at 46 CFR Parts 4 & 16.

 

Pipeline PHMSA
Operations, maintenance and emergency response.See PHMSA regulations at 49 CFR Part 199.

 

Railroad FRA
Hours of Service Act personnel, engine & train, signal service or train dispatchers. See FRA regulations at 49 CFR Part 219.

 

Transit FTA
Vehicle operators, controllers, mechanics and armed security.See FTA regulations at 49 CFR Part 655.

 

Remember: The tasks you actually perform qualify you as a safety-sensitive employee, not your job title. Also, some employees, like managers and
supervisors, may be qualified for these jobs but not currently performing them. Do they have to be tested as well? In most cases, yes…if that
employee may be asked at a moment’s notice or in an emergency to perform a safety-sensitive job. Be sure to check industry specific regulations
for further clarification.

 

Why are safety-sensitive employees tested?

The short answer is for the safety of the traveling public, co-workers and yourself. The longer answer is that the United States Congress recognized the need for a drug and alcohol free transportation industry, and in 1991 passed the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act, requiring DOT Agencies to implement drug & alcohol testing of safety-sensitive transportation employees.

Within DOT, the Office of the Secretary’s Office of Drug & Alcohol Policy & Compliance (ODAPC) publishes rules on how to conduct those tests, what
procedures to use when testing and how to return an employee to safety sensitive duties. Encompassed in 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 40, ODAPC publishes and provides authoritative interpretations of these rules.

 

DOT agencies and the U.S. Coast Guard write industry specific regulations, spelling out who is subject to testing, when and in what situations. Industry employers implement the regulations that apply to them. The benefit to all employees affected by DOT regulations is that each agency’s
regulations must adhere to DOT’s testing procedures found at 49 CFR Part 40, commonly know as “Part 40.” For example, you may work in the rail industry and later work in the motor carrier industry, but the procedures for collecting, testing and reporting of your tests will be the same under Part 40.

 

What information must employers provide when I first begin performing DOT safety-sensitive functions?

Depending on the DOT agency over-seeing your industry, your employer may be required to provide you with educational materials and a company policy that explain the requirements of DOT’s drug & alcohol testing regulations and the procedures to help you comply. If you have not received this information, be sure to ask your employer about it.

 

What conduct is prohibited by the regulations?

As a safety-sensitive employee…
• You must not use or possess alcohol or any illicit drug while assigned to perform safety-sensitive functions or actually performing safety-sensitive
functions.
• You must not report for service, or remain on duty if you…
– Are under the influence or impaired by alcohol;
– Have a blood alcohol concentration .04 or greater; (with a blood alcohol concentration of .02 to .039, some regulations do not permit you to
continue working until your next regularly scheduled duty period);
– Have used any illicit drug.
• You must not use alcohol within four hours (8 hours for flight crew members and flight attendants) of reporting for service or after receiving notice to report.

• You must not report for duty or remain on duty when using any controlled substance unless used pursuant to the instructions of an authorized medical practitioner.
• You must not refuse to submit to any test for alcohol or controlled substances.
• You must not refuse to submit to any test by adulterating or substituting your specimen.

 

What drugs does DOT test for?

DOT drug tests are conducted only using urine specimens. The urine specimens are analyzed for the following drugs/metabolites:
Marijuana metabolites /THC
Cocaine metabolites
Amphetamines (including methamphetamine)
Opiates (including codeine, heroin, morphine)
Phencyclidine (PCP)

 

Can I use prescribed medications & over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and perform safety-sensitive functions?
Prescription medicine and OTC drugs may be allowed. However, you must meet the following minimum standards:

• The medicine is prescribed to you by a licensed physician, such as your personal doctor.

• The treating/prescribing physician has made a good faith judgment that the use of the substance at the prescribed or authorized dosage level is
consistent with the safe performance of your duties.

Best Practice: To assist your doctor in prescribing the best possible treatment, consider providing your physician with a detailed description of
your job. A title alone may not be sufficient. Many employers give employees a written, detailed description of their job functions to provide
their doctors at the time of the exam.
• The substance is used at the dosage prescribed or authorized.
• If you are being treated by more than one physician, you must show that at least one of the treating doctors has been informed of all prescribed and authorized medications and has determined that the use of the medications is consistent with the safe performance of your duties.
• Taking the prescription medication and performing your DOT safety-sensitive functions is not prohibited by agency drug and alcohol regulations. However, other DOT agency regulations may have prohibitive provisions, such as medical certifications.
Remember: Some agencies have regulations prohibiting use of specific prescription drugs, e.g. methadone, etc…. If you are using prescription or


over-the-counter medication, check first with a physician, but do not forget to consult your industry-specific regulations before deciding to perform safety-sensitive tasks. Also be sure to refer to your company’s policy regarding prescription drugs.

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What Employees Need To Know About DOT Alcohol & Drug Testing. Part 2.

When will I be tested?

 

Safety-sensitive employees are subject to drug or alcohol testing in the following situations:


Pre-employment.
Reasonable Suspicion/Cause.
Random.
Return-to-duty.
Follow-up.
• Post-Accident.

 

Pre-Employment


As a new hire, you are required to submit to a drug test. Employers may, but are not required to, conduct alcohol testing.
Only after your employer receives a negative drug test result (and negative alcohol test result – if administered) may you begin performing safety-sensitive functions. This also applies if you are a current employee transferring from a non-safety-sensitive function into a safety-sensitive position (even if it is the same employer).

 

Reasonable Suspicion/Cause


You are required to submit to any test (whether drug, alcohol or both) that a supervisor requests based on reasonable suspicion. Reasonable suspicion means that one or more trained supervisors reasonably believes or suspects that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They cannot require testing based on a hunch or guess alone; their suspicion must be based on observations concerning your appearance, behavior, speech and smell that are usually associated with drug or alcohol use.

 

Random


You are subject to unannounced random drug & alcohol testing. Alcohol testing is administered just prior to, during or just after performing safety sensitive functions. Depending on the industry specific regulations, you may only be subject to random drug testing.

 

No manager, supervisor, official or agent may select you for testing just because they want to. Under DOT regulations, employers must use a truly


random selection process. Each employee must have an equal chance to be selected and tested.
Just prior to the testing event, you will be notified of your selection and provided enough time to stop performing your safety sensitive function and report to the testing location. Failure to show for a test or interfering with the testing process can be considered a refusal.

 

Post-Accident

If you are involved in an event (accident, crash, etc.) meeting certain criteria of the DOT agency, a post-accident test will be required. You will then have to take a drug test and an alcohol test. You are required to remain available for this testing and are not permitted to refuse testing.
Remember: Safety-sensitive employees are obligated by law to submit to and cooperate in drug & alcohol testing mandated by DOT regulations.

 

Return to Duty

If you have violated the prohibited drug & alcohol rules, you are required to take a drug and/or alcohol test before returning to safety-sensitive functions for any DOT regulated employer. You are subject to unannounced follow-up testing at least 6 times in the first 12 months following your return to active safety-sensitive service.

 

Follow-up


The amount of follow-up testing you receive is determined by a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) and may continue for up to 5 years. This means the SAP will determine how many times you will be tested (at least 6 times in the first year), for how long, and for what substance (i.e. drugs, alcohol, or both). Your employer is responsible for ensuring that follow-up testing is conducted and completed, and your employer may have a policy that all follow-up tests are collected under direct observation. Follow-up testing is in addition to all other DOT required testing.

 

How is a urine drug test administered?


Regardless of the DOT agency requiring the drug test, the drug testing process always consists of three components:


The Collection. (49 CFR Part 40, Subparts C, D, E)
Testing at the Laboratory. (49 CFR Part 40, Subpart F)
Review by the Medical Review Officer. (49 CFR Part 40, Subpart G)

The Collection


During the collection process, a urine specimen collector will:
• Verify your identity using a current valid photo ID, such as driver’s license, passport, employer issued picture ID, etc.
• Create a secure collection site by:
– Restricting access to the site to only those being tested.
– Securing all water sources and placing blue dye in any standing water.
– Removing or securing all cleaning products/fluids at the collection site.


• Afford you privacy to provide a urine specimen.
– Exceptions to the rule generally surround issues of attempted adulteration or substitution of a specimen or any situation where general questions of validity arise, like an unusual temperature.


• Ask you to remove any unnecessary garments and empty your pockets (you may retain your wallet).
• Instruct you to wash and dry your hands.
• Select or have you select a sealed collection kit and open it in your presence.
• Request you to provide a specimen (a minimum of 45 mL) of your urine into a collection container.
• Check the temperature and color of the urine.
• In your presence, pour the urine into two separate bottles (A or primary and B or split), seal them with tamper-evident tape, and then ask you to sign the seals after they have been placed on the bottles.
Remember: Neither you nor the collector should let the specimen out of your sight until it has been poured into two separate bottles and sealed.
• Ask you to provide your name, date of birth, and daytime and evening phone numbers on the Medical Review Officer Copy (Copy #2) of the Federal Drug Testing Custody and Control Form (CCF).

– This is so the Medical Review Officer (MRO) can contact you directly if there are any questions about your test.
• Complete necessary documentation on the Laboratory Copy (Copy #1) of the CCF to demonstrate the chain of custody (i.e. handling) of the specimen.
• Give you the Employee Copy (Copy # 5) of the CCF and may suggest you list any prescription and over-the-counter medications you may be taking on the back of your copy of the CCF (this may serve as a reminder for you in the event the MRO calls you to discuss your test results).
• Package and ship both sealed bottles and completed CCF to a U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) certified testing laboratory as quickly as possible. If you are unable to provide 45 mL of urine on the first attempt, the time will be noted, and you will be:
• Required to remain in the testing area under the supervision of the collection site personnel, their supervisor, or a representative from your company,
– Leaving the testing area without authorization may be considered a refusal to test

• Urged to drink up to 40 oz. of fluid, distributed reasonably over a period of up to three hours,
• Asked to provide a new specimen (into a new collection container).

• If you do not provide a sufficient specimen within three hours, you must obtain a medical evaluation  within five days to determine if there is an
acceptable medical reason for not being able to provide a specimen. If it is determined that there is no legitimate physiological or pre-existing
psychological reason for not providing a urine specimen, it will be considered a refusal to test.

 

How do you know if you are taking a federal or a private company drug test?

All DOT drug tests are completed using the Federal Drug Testing Custody and Control Form. Those words appear at the top of each form.

Testing at the Laboratory
At the laboratory, the staff will:
• Determine if flaws exist. If flaws exist, the specimen is rejected for testing.
• Open only the A bottle and conduct a screening test. Specimens that screen positive will be analyzed again using a completely different testing
methodology.
– If the specimen tests negative in either test, the result will be reported as a negative.
– Only if the specimen tests positive under both methods will the specimen be reported to the medical review officer as a positive test.
• Report the findings of the analysis of the A bottle to the Medical Review Officer (MRO).
• Store the A and B bottles for any reported positive, adulterated, or substituted result for at least 12 months.
Remember: The Lab may conduct specimen validity tests (SVTs) to determine if the specimen was adulterated or substituted. Tests found to
be adulterated or substituted are also reported to the MRO and may be considered a refusal to test.

 

Review by the Medical Review Officer (MRO)


Upon receipt of the test result from the laboratory, the MRO will:
• Review paperwork for accuracy.
• Report a negative result to the Designated Employer Representative (DER).
• If the result is positive, conduct an interview with you to determine if there is a legitimate medical reason for the result. If a legitimate medical reason is established, the MRO will report the result to the DER as negative. If not, the MRO will report the result to the DER as positive.
• If the result is an adulterated or substituted test, conduct an interview with you to determine if there is a legitimate medical reason for the result. If a legitimate medical reason is established, the MRO will report the result to the DER as cancelled. If not, the MRO will report the result to the DER as a refusal.

 

• Report a non-negative test result to the DER if:
– You refused to discuss the results with the MRO;
– You did not provide the MRO with acceptable medical documentation to explain the non-negative test result.
• Inform you that you have 72 hours from the time of the verified result to request to have your B “split” bottle sent to another certified lab for analysis for the same substance or condition that was found in the A “primary” bottle.

 

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How do DOT drug and alcohol tests relate to non-DOT tests?

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Employer Responsibilities:

 

(a) DOT tests must be completely separate from non-DOT tests in all respects.


(b) DOT tests must take priority and must be conducted and completed before a non-DOT test is begun. For example, you must discard any excess urine left over from a DOT test and collect a separate void for the subsequent non-DOT test.


(c) Except as provided in paragraph (d) of this section, you must not perform any tests on DOT urine or breath specimens other than those specifically authorized by this part or DOT agency regulations. For example, you may not test a DOT urine specimen for additional drugs, and a laboratory is prohibited from making a DOT urine specimen available for a DNA test or other types of specimen identity testing.


(d) The single exception to paragraph (c) of this section is when a DOT drug test collection is conducted as part of a physical examination required by DOT agency regulations. It is permissible to conduct required medical tests related to this physical examination (e.g., for glucose) on any urine remaining in the collection container after the drug test urine specimens have been sealed into the specimen bottles.


(e) No one is permitted to change or disregard the results of DOT tests based on the results of non-DOT tests. For example, as an employer you must not disregard a verified positive DOT drug test result because the employee presents a negative test result from a blood or urine specimen collected by the employee’s physician or a DNA test result purporting to question the identity of the DOT specimen.


(f) As an employer, you must not use the CCF or the ATF in your non-DOT drug and alcohol testing programs. This prohibition includes the use of the DOT forms with references to DOT programs and agencies crossed out. You also must always use the CCF and ATF for all your DOT-mandated drug and alcohol tests.