Key Components of an Effective DOT Drug or Alcohol Testing Program
Implementing a comprehensive drug and alcohol testing program is crucial for businesses that employ safety-sensitive personnel, especially those regulated by the Department of Transportation (DOT). This article will outline the essential components that employers must include in their DOT testing program to ensure compliance and maintain a safe work environment.
Written Policy Distribution and Documentation
To begin, employers must develop a written policy that aligns with the requirements of the specific DOT agency applicable to their industry. This policy should be distributed to all employees who perform safety-sensitive functions, and a signed receipt acknowledging its receipt should be kept on file. Nationwide Testing Association NTA provides clients with a DOT policy template when setting up an account, simplifying the process for employers.
Employers are responsible for providing educational materials on DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing regulations to all employees. These materials should cover the necessary information regarding drug and alcohol testing procedures, regulations, and the consequences of non-compliance. A signed receipt from each employee should be kept on file, along with at least one copy of the educational booklet provided by NTA.
Qualified Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) Information
Employers must maintain on file the name, address, and contact information of a qualified Substance Abuse Professional (SAP). While DOT regulations do not require employers to keep an employee or pay for their treatment after a positive test result, all employees must be referred to a qualified SAP. This referral and documentation are essential for compliance.
Collector and Technician Certification
Ensuring the expertise and qualifications of drug screen collectors and alcohol technicians is critical. Employers should request copies of certification from all collectors and technicians to ensure compliance with DOT requirements. By doing so, businesses maintain a competent and reliable testing process.
Reasonable Suspicion Supervisor Training
Supervisors of employees performing safety-sensitive functions must receive mandatory 2-hour training on recognizing signs and symptoms of alcohol and drug abuse. This training should also cover proper documentation and handling of reasonable suspicion testing. NTA offers this training through regional seminars, as well as through on-site sessions or written materials available for purchase.
Substances Tested by DOT
The DOT conducts testing for both alcohol and drugs. The substances tested for include:
- Amphetamines (including methamphetamine)
- Opiates (including heroin, codeine, and morphine)
- Phencyclidine (PCP)
According to DOT data, marijuana, and amphetamines were the most commonly detected substances in commercial motor vehicle drivers during testing in 2015. While the positive results remained relatively low at 1.85% overall, maintaining transportation safety remains a top priority for the DOT.
Prohibited Conduct under DOT Regulations
To uphold safety standards, DOT regulations prohibit safety-sensitive employees from engaging in certain behaviors. These include:
Working under the influence
Employees with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .04 or greater are prohibited from performing their duties. Most employees must refrain from alcohol consumption within four hours before reporting for service, while flight attendants and crew members must extend this to eight hours.
Safety-sensitive employees cannot report for duty or remain on duty if they have used any controlled substance, particularly illicit drugs. Exceptions may be made for controlled substances used under medical supervision.
Refusing a test
Employees who refuse to submit to a drug or alcohol test will face dismissal. It is also strictly prohibited to interfere with the testing process or tamper with collected specimens.