Intro to the DOT’s Drug & Alcohol Testing Regulations

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You know drug testing is critical for ensuring the safety of your workplace, but knowing all the steps for staying compliant within stringent regulations can be overwhelming—especially when you take into account ever-changing laws around marijuana, the growing opioid crisis, and different drug-screening best practices.

In an effort to provide some clarity and uniformity for companies that employ safety-sensitive employees that fall under DOT regulation, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has established the 49 CFR Part 40—a DOT-wide set of regulations that state how to conduct drug and alcohol testing and how to return employees to safety-sensitive duties after they violate a DOT drug and alcohol regulation. Here’s what that means for all of you that employ CDL holders, airline pilots, mariners, etc.

Understanding the 49 CFR Part 40

Who All Does The 49 CFR Part 40 Apply To?

All DOT employers must comply with the 49 CFR Part 40—often referred to only as “Part 40″—regardless of mode of transportation. For example, whether you’re in public transit as part of the FTA, a cruise line covered by MARAD rules, or a courier service under the FMCSA, you are responsible for overseeing the collection process and reporting on the test results that apply to your DOT agency.

When Are Tests Administered?

The Part 40 rule requires all DOT regulated safety-sensitive employers to conduct proper drug and alcohol testing on the following occasions:

  • Pre-Employment: before employees are allowed to operate a commercial vehicle
  • Post-Accident: in the case of a human fatality, bodily injury, and/or if there is disabling damage to any motor vehicle requiring a tow away
  • Return-to-Duty: after an employee tested positive, refused, or otherwise violated specified prohibitions with an additional 1-5 years of follow-up testing after he or she successfully completes the return-to-duty process. These tests are required to be observed
    • Please note that any employee subject to follow up testing is still considered part of the random pool
  • For-cause: if and when you have evidence or reasonable cause to suspect an employee of drug use
  • At Random: each applicable employee is entered into a selection pool and selected randomly according to the current random testing rates determined by each DOT modal. These tests are not required to be observed

What Substances Are Tested?

Prior to January 1, 2018, the standard DOT drug testing panel screened for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, phencyclidine (PCP), and opiates, but the test has since been updated to include semi-synthetic opioids like hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone; though you probably recognize these drugs by their brand names like OxyContin®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, Lortab®, etc. Additionally, screening 6-MAM—one of three active metabolites of heroin—is also now required.

What Are The Testing Procedures?

It is critical that collectors and collection site managers follow these 10 Steps to Collection Site Security and Integrity as defined by U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance:

1. Pay careful attention to employees throughout the collection process.

2. Ensure that there is no unauthorized access into the collection areas and that undetected access (e.g., through a door not in view) is not possible.

3. Make sure that employees show proper picture ID.

4. Make sure employees empty pockets; remove outer garments (e.g., coveralls, jacket, coat, hat); leave briefcases, purses, and bags behind; and wash their hands.

5. Maintain personal control of the specimen and Federal Drug Testing Custody and Control Form (CCF) at all times during the collection.

6. Secure any water sources or otherwise make them unavailable to employees (e.g., turn off water inlet, tape handles to prevent opening faucets, secure tank lids).

7. Ensure that the water in the toilet and tank (if applicable) has bluing (coloring) agent in it. Tape or otherwise secure shut any movable toilet tank top, or put bluing in the tank.

8. Ensure that no soap, disinfectants, cleaning agents, or other possible adulterants are present.

9. Inspect the site to ensure that no foreign or unauthorized substances are present.

10. Secure areas and items (e.g., ledges, trash receptacles, paper towel holders, under-sink areas, ceiling tiles) that appear suitable for concealing contaminants.

Are You In Compliance?

This is all just the tip of the iceberg. The official 49 CFR Part 40 rule is roughly 100 pages long with 186 parts across 18 subcategories and 8 appendices. Do you really know if you’re in compliance?

ARCpoint’s experts can review your current drug testing policies and update them if neededhelp you implement and manage a random drug testing programconduct drug screenings, and even train supervisors to recognize the specific, observable behaviors of an impaired employee. Give us a call at 864.271.3210, or contact us online to start creating a safer work environment today.

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