People rely on public transportation to get from one place to another on a daily basis. In that process, they basically entrust their safety to the driver operating the vehicle. Naturally, not everybody can become a driver, so it is important that the employee’s background is checked before making the hire.
Another thing that’s very important for the safety of our society, and has to do with transportation, is drug testing. In fact, every individual who works in sensitive positions and environments which fall under the jurisdiction of DOT has to undergo this procedure. Sensitive positions are all those jobs that impact both the safety of the worker, as well as the safety of the public.
Now, let us take a more detailed look into how these checks are done, and how associations such as NTA Testing – DOT Drug Testing help us in keeping the whole society safe.
We are going to go through who, what and when, in order to make sure that you know exactly who is susceptible to this kind of examination, at what points of time, as well as what drugs checked for. Furthermore, I will explain what happens if an individual fails the test.
What is the DOT drug test?
After recognising the need for a drug-free transportation industry, the Government passed an act which required the Department of Transportation (DOT) agencies to regularly test their employees for both drugs and alcohol abuse.
Specific regulations are written by those agencies, in order to explain who is subject to examination, as well as when and why. Employers implement those regulations that apply to their respective businesses.
Who is subject to this?
The DOT regulations have a class of employees classified as ‘safety-sensitive’. Every person that falls under that category is subject to drug testing. We have already explained that those are the people responsible for public safety, and now we are going to take a closer look at some of the jobs they do.
Keep in mind that this list is not complete, so you need to get properly informed if your business falls under the DOT jurisdiction.
- Flight attendants, flight crews, aircraft dispatchers and others in the Federal Aviation Administration;
- Individuals holding commercial driver’s licence, who operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), vehicles that have 16 or more passengers, or vehicles that transport hazardous materials;
- Commercial vessels operators;
- Train workers, train dispatchers, signal service workers – see the Federal Railroad Administration for further info;
- Mechanics, vehicle operators, controllers and armed security in the Federal Transit Administration
When are these done?
Unsurprisingly, these tests are required before a person is employed. In addition to that, employers can conduct random drug examinations. Those are done quarterly and every employee should have an equal chance to be picked out for a check-up. Furthermore, there are return-to-duty, as well as follow-up tests, which are done after the rules have once been violated.
Moreover, if an individual is involved in an accident, then a drug examination needs to be done within 32 hours. On top of that, employers reserve the right to implement these tests whenever supervisors have reason to believe that a specific worker is under the influence of certain substances. This is called ‘reasonable cause’ and the worker doesn’t have the right to reject the procedure. Of course, these suspicions need to be based on realistic observations.
What drugs fall under these?
The DOT drug tests all use the same panel, which include the following drugs:
- Cocaine metabolites
- Phencyclidine (PCP)
What happens if someone fails?
If an employee fails the test, the employer is required to instantly remove them from the position that requires them to perform any safety-sensitive duties whatsoever. Additionally, those persons can lose their licenses for work, as well as certifications.
However, keep in mind that this depends on the specific company’s regulations. So, make sure to be properly informed with those regulations, as well as convey them to all your workers. Of course, these need to be included in the contracts and agreements between the company and the worker.
Image credit: Freepik
Peter Wallace has been an advocate for mental health awareness for years. He holds a master’s degree in counselling from the University of Edinburgh.