• FAQs on DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing

    In the publication “What Employees Need to Know about DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing”1, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) aims to help employees address their safety concerns regarding workplace drug and alcohol testing in line with what has been required by certain parts of the DOT Agency regulations. Reading through this handbook, one will find out about all the answers to many of their questions regarding drug and alcohol testing in DOT.

    In relation to this, here are some FAQs on DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing.

    Q: Why is DOT drug and alcohol testing important in the first place?

    A: Safety – this is the top priority of the US DOT and for this reason, the department has deemed it necessary to put drug and alcohol testing in place throughout the agency. Part of the program is to ascertain that transportation providers across road, over land, in the air or all models employ 100% drug-free and alcohol-free operators.

    Q: Who is subject to the test?

    A: All safety-sensitive employees assigned under the DOT are required to undergo the test. This would include people from the: aviation department (flight crews, air traffic controllers, aircraft dispatchers etc.); commercial motor carriers who are Commercial Driver’s License holders; maritime crewmembers operating any type of commercial vessel; pipeline operations, emergency response and maintenance; railroad men; and transit department including vehicle operators, armed security, mechanics and controllers among others.

    Q: What must employers provide their employees with regards to DOT drug and alcohol testing?

    A: Employers are expected to provide their employees with a company policy as well as educational materials that include all the necessary explanations related to the need to undergo DOT drug and alcohol testing. This should also include how the procedure goes and how one will be able to comply with it.

    Q: What particular drugs do DOT test for?

    A: The DOT makes use of a specific drug testing tool, that is, urine drug testing. The urine specimen will then be analyzed with certain types of drugs or metabolites like cocaine, marijuana/THC, amphetamines, opiates and phencyclidine.

    Q: Are there any additional specimens required for drug and alcohol testing?

    A: For a Post-Accident test, blood specimen collection will be required. The same applies for Serious Marine Incident (SMI) testing.2

    Q: What about using OTC and prescription drugs when performing safety-sensitive functions?

    A: The use of OTC or prescribed medications is allowed provided the medicine has been prescribed by a licensed physician. The physician must also truthfully swear that the use of such medications will be safe to use by an employee in the performance of his duties.

    Q: When are DOT tests performed?

    A: DOT drug and alcohol testing are performed during pre-employment in most cases. However, several situations can also call for performance of a test like for reasonable cause or suspicion, return-to-duty, post-accident, follow-up and even for random purposes.

    Q: How is the urine sample collected and tested?

    A: Urine drug testing follows a series of three important steps including: (1) the collection; (2) testing at an authorized laboratory; and (3) a corresponding review by the Medical Review Officer of the DOT or the DOT-related agency.

    Q: Who analyzes urine specimen?

    A: Urine specimens are tested through HHS drug testing laboratories.3

    Q: How will one know whether he underwent a private or federal drug test?

    A: Federal or DOT drug and alcohol tests are performed by completing the so-called Federal Drug Testing Custody and Control Form or CCF.4 This form contains specific instructions as to who and how the form will be filled up. Any other drug test performed without the CCF is conducted by a private entity.

    Q: How is the test being administered?

    A: The DOT spearheads the test in such a manner that the test’s validity will be ensured at all times. It also reserves the confidentiality of the employee’s testing details.

    Q: What should one do if he feels that he was unfairly selected for random drug and alcohol testing?

    A: The first thing one should do is comply with the requirement, that is, to submit oneself to the test. From there, he can make a timely complaint on the matter. This can be done by addressing the concern through the employer’s dispute resolution office. Any complaint should be made in writing. An issue can also be coursed through DOT’s drug and alcohol program office.

    Q: What happens when one tests positive?

    A: He will be removed by the company official and will be restricted from performing safety-sensitive functions as defined by the DOT. He will be allowed to return to duty though provided he has dutifully completed the evaluation administered by a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) and has completed counseling, education or treatment for his dependence. Likewise, he should provide a negative result for drugs and a less than 0.02 alcohol test result.

    Q: What are SAPs?

    A: Substance Abuse Professionals or SAPs are persons who play a critical role when it comes to workplace drug testing. They take charge of evaluating individuals who have violated rules of the DOT drug and alcohol testing program. They are tasked to recommend education, counseling or treatment for concerned employees. They too can determine whether or not a person is safe to return to his safety-sensitive duty.

    Q: How can one look for a SAP?

    A: Employers would provide employees with a list of SAPs with their corresponding address or contact information.

    Q: What happens to one’s career when he has violated the drug and alcohol regulations?

    A: The DOT will not in any way take charge of the firing of the person who has found to have violated the drug and alcohol rules set by the agency. Employers have a hand on the matter and are expected to provide a course of action for the benefit of the industry as a whole. Employees though should expect immediate removal from office in case of violations.

    Q: Will the results affect one’s employment history?

    A: Yes, it will definitely affect employment history. This can be carried on from one employer to another most especially if the next employer is also subject to the DOT Agency’s regulations.

    Q: Where can one seek help for more questions regarding these DOT drug and alcohol testing rules?

    A: The Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC5) will help answer any other questions a person has when it comes to DOT’s drug and alcohol program regulations.

    References 

    http://www.dot.gov/sites/dot.dev/files/docs/ODAPC%20EmployeeHandbook%20En.pdf

    http://www.samhsa.gov/workplace
    http://www.dot.gov/sites/dot.dev/files/docs/Alcohol-Drug-Testing-Form-Suppliers.pdf
    http://www.dot.gov/odapc

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    Categories: Alcohol & Alcohol Testing, Substance Abuse

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