June 26th, 2017 | Debbie Lamb, Sterling Talent Solutions

Promoting a Safe Workplace through DOT Testing

Employee drug testing is a single data point in the assessment of an employee or candidate and an integral part of candidate and employee assessment. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), the impact of alcoholism or drug dependence on workplace ranges from increased injuries, higher absenteeism and loss of production. A business that has and enforces a drug and health screening policy will see an increase in the stability of worker productivity while reducing employee turnover. Also, a set drug screening policy can help a company avoid liability for negligent hiring penalties. Whether you are federally mandated to test your workers or have adopted your own program to protect your organization, a strong substance abuse testing and health screening solution is key to having confidence in your workforce.

There were many changes to the drug laws in 2016. Some were changes to federal policies, while a majority of them were updated with marijuana legalization laws approved by voters in late 2016.  In 2016, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) lowered the minimum annual drug testing rate from 50 percent to 25 percent following three consecutive years of drug testing data showed the positive rate for controlled substances was less than one percent.

What is DOT Screening?

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has set federally mandated drug and alcohol screening regulations for “anyone designated in DOT regulations as a safety-sensitive employee.” Generally, DOT regulations cover safety-sensitive transportation employers and employees. Each DOT agency (e.g. FRA, FMCSA, FTA, FAA, and PHMSA) and the USCG have specific drug and alcohol testing regulations which outline what is subject to their testing regulations. Each employer will implement the regulations that apply to their specific industry. DOT regulated employers must comply with testing procedures found in 49 CFR Part 40 (“Part 40”) and any applicable DOT agency regulations. “Part 40” dictates how the drug and alcohol test is conducted, who is authorized to participate in these testing programs and what employees much do before they return to work following a drug or alcohol violation.

Elements of DOT Screening

Safety-sensitive employees are subject to drug or alcohol testing for the following situations throughout their tenure with a company: pre-employment, reasonable suspicion/cause, random, return-to-duty, follow-up, and/or post-accident. DOT drug tests require laboratory testing (49 CFR Part 40 Subpart F) for the following five classes of drugs:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates – opium and codeine derivatives
  • Amphetamines and methamphetamines
  • Phencyclidine – PCP

Plus, DOT alcohol tests identify alcohol concentration of 0.02 and greater. The DOT “does not prohibit motor carrier employers from instituting a “company authority testing program that is in addition to, and distinct from, the required DOT testing program.” However, the DOT does require that “any additional policies and consequences be clearly and obviously described as being based on the employer’s independent authority.”

Another requirement of the DOT is random rescreening. FMCA regulations require that transportation companies that employ commercial driver’s licensed drivers conduct random drug tests upon their employee at the nationally prescribed 25 percent. The rescreening should be truly random with every employee having an equal chance to be selected and tested.

Simpler, Convenient, Accurate and Compliant Drug Screening

Sterling pre employment drug test conveniently have more than 12,000 test sites nationwide. Our services span everything from regulated (DOT) to non-regulated drug-free workplace programs are designed to provide organizations with the most accurate records when they are needed the most.

Sterling releases quarterly platform and product updates to inform our clients of the latest changes in the background screening industry. SterlingONE offers new drug panels, allowing employers to test candidates or employees for various substances at DOT standards. The drug panels align with HHS scientific cutoff levels to allow employers to test at DOT standards without the DOT regulating authority. For instance, an employer can test an employee who is managing heavy machinery but is not part of the DOT.

The urine tests vary from 5-panel to 10-panel with specific substances for each panel. Some of the additional drugs that are screened include barbiturates, benzodiazepines, propoxyphene and methadone. These new drug panels offer clients the flexibility they need to ensure a safe workplace. It holds all employees to company standards of a drug-free workplace. Most of all, the company maintains a level of safety for the company’s employees and their customers.

DEA Screening Available On SterlingONE

SterlingONE is now offering a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) background screening check. This type of screening will report if a candidate is registered to handle controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This test is critical for the healthcare industry, especially in hospitals and pharmacies, where candidates could be handling controlled substances. The DEA Screening allows employers to stay compliant and keep the workplace safe.

Sterling’s background screening platform, SterlingONE, is committed to providing hiring peace of mind with our scalable and centralized solutions. Sterling constantly aims to improve and simplify the client and candidate experience for background screening and onboarding. We want to maximize the hiring workflow efficiency for both candidates and employers, while still staying on top of compliance and turnaround times. Learn more about Sterling’s hiring solutions and how to transform your company’s hiring process to improve the candidate experience on our company website.

Sterling is not a law firm. This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.