DRUG & ALCOHOL PROGRAM: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What are the rules?Top

_YOUR NAME HERE__ company has issued regulations requiring alcohol and drug testing of employees. Regulations include procedures for urine drug testing and breath alcohol testing. The urine drug testing procedures issued are governed and mandated by the FMCSA. The 1994 amendments to Part 40 add breath alcohol testing procedures and additional urine specimen collection procedures that provide for urine specimens.

What alcohol use is prohibited?Top

Because alcohol is a legal substance, the rules define specific prohibited alcohol-related conduct. Performances of company duties are prohibited:

  • While having a breath alcohol concentration of 0.04 percent of greater as indicated by an alcohol breath test.
  • While using any alcohol.
  • Within eight hours after using alcohol.

What alcohol tests are required?Top

  • Random - conducted on a random unannounced basis just before, during or just after performance of company duties.
  • Post-Accident - conducted after recordable accidents of employees whose performance could have contributed to the accident and for all fatal accidents.
  • Reasonable Suspicion - conducted when a trained supervisor or company official observes and documents behavior or appearance that is characteristic of alcohol misuse.
  • Return-to-Duty and Follow-up - conducted when an individual who has violated the prohibited alcohol conduct standards returns to performance of company duties.
  • Follow-up tests are unannounced and must be conducted at least 6 times in the first 12 months after an employee returns to duty. Follow-up testing may be extended for up to 60 months following return to duty.
  • Pre-employment - not required, but permitted if desired by the employer using the Federal guidelines. Conducted before applicants are hired or after an offer to hire, but before actually performing company functions for the first time. Also applies when employees transfer regional positions.

How will random alcohol testing work? Top

Random alcohol testing must be conducted just before, during, or just after performance of company duties. The employee is randomly selected for testing (usually from a "pool" of employees subject to testing). The testing dates and times are unannounced and are with unpredictable frequency throughout the year. Each year, the number of random tests conducted by the employer must equal at least 10% of all employees.

How will alcohol testing be done?Top

The rules require breath testing using evidential breath testing (EBT) devices approved by the NHTSA. The NHTSA periodically publishes a list of approved devices in the Federal Register. Two breath tests are required to determine if a person has a prohibited alcohol concentration. A screening test is conducted first. Any result less than 0.02 alcohol concentration is considered a "negative" test. If the alcohol concentration is 0.02 or greater, a second confirmation test must be conducted. The employee and the individual conducting the breath test (called a breath alcohol technician (BAT)) complete the alcohol testing form to ensure that the results are properly recorded. The confirmation test, if required, must be conducted using an EBT that prints out the results, date and time, a sequential test number, and the name and serial number of the EBT to ensure the reliability of the results. The confirmation test results determine any actions taken. Testing procedures that ensure accuracy, reliability and confidentiality of test results are outlined in the Part 40 rule. These procedures include training and proficiency requirements for the breath alcohol technicians (BAT), quality assurance plans for the breath testing devices (including calibration requirements for a suitable test location), and protection of employee test records.

Who does the testing?Top

Employers are responsible for implementing and conducting the testing programs. They may do this using contract services, or by joining together in a consortium that provides services to all member companies. Any individual who conducts the testing must be trained to operate the EBT and be proficient in the breath testing procedures. Every BAT must make available to the employer or consortium his/her certification which must be maintained for 5 years by the employer.

What are the consequences of alcohol misuse?Top

Employees who engage in prohibited alcohol conduct must be immediately removed from performance of company duties. Employees who have engaged in alcohol misuse cannot return to company duties until they have been evaluated by a substance abuse professional and complied with any treatment recommendations to assist them with an alcohol problem.

To further safeguard employees who have any alcohol concentration (defined as 0.02 or greater but less than 0.04) when tested just before, during or just after performing company duties, must also be removed from performing such duties for 24 hours. If an employee's behavior or appearance suggests alcohol misuse, a reasonable suspicion alcohol test must be conducted. If a breath test cannot be administered, the employee must be removed from performing company duties for at least 24 hours.

How will employees know about these new rules?Top

Employers must provide detailed information about alcohol misuse, the employers policy, the testing requirements, and how and where employees can get help for alcohol abuse. Supervisors of employees must attend at least one hour of training on alcohol misuse symptoms and indicators used in making determinations for reasonable suspicion testing.

Are employees entitled to rehabilitation? Top

Employees who violate the alcohol misuse rules must be referred to a substance abuse professional (SAP) for evaluation. Any treatment or rehabilitation would be provided in accordance with the employers policy or labor/management agreements. The employer is not required under these rules to provide rehabilitation, pay for treatment, or reinstate the employee in his/her company position. Any employer who does decide to return an employee to company duties must ensure that the employee: 1) has been evaluated by a substance abuse professional; 2) has complied with any recommended treatment; 3) has taken a return-to-duty alcohol test (with a result less than 0.02); and 4) is subject to unannounced follow-up alcohol tests.

How will the Company know if these rules are being followed? Top

Employers will keep detailed records of their alcohol misuse prevention programs. The Director of Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy and Procedures will conduct inspections of employers programs. These reports will be used to help monitor compliance with and enforcement of the rules, as well as to provide data on the extent of alcohol misuse and the need for any future program and regulatory changes.

Is employee alcohol testing records confidential?Top

Yes! Employee alcohol testing records are confidential. Test results and other confidential information may only be released to the employer and the substance abuse professional. Any other release of this information is only with the employees consent. If an employee initiates a grievance, hearing, lawsuit or other action as a result of a violation of these rules, the employer may release relevant information to the decision maker only after written request or at the actual hearing.

How is drug testing done?Top

The company drug and alcohol testing procedures rule (49 CRF Part 40) sets forth the procedures for drug testing. Drug testing is conducted by analyzing an employee's urine specimen. The analysis is performed at laboratories certified and monitored by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). There are over 50 DHHS-certified drug testing laboratories located throughout the United States. The list of DHHS approved laboratories is published monthly in the Federal Register. The employee provides a urine specimen in a location that affords privacy and the "collector" seals and labels the specimen, completes a chain of custody document, and prepares the specimen and accompanying paperwork for shipment to a drug testing laboratory. The specimen collection procedures and chain of custody ensure that the specimen's security, proper identification and integrity are not compromised.

What drugs are tested for?Top

All urine specimens are analyzed for the following drugs:

  1. Marijuana (THC metabolite)
  2. Cocaine
  3. Amphetamines
  4. Opiates (including heroin)
  5. Phencyclidine (PCP)

The testing is a two-stage process. First, a screening test is performed. If it is positive for one or more of the drugs, then a confirmation test is performed for each identified drug using state-of-the-art gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) analysis. GC/MS confirmation ensures that over-the-counter medications or preparations are not reported as positive results.

Who reviews and interprets the laboratory results?Top

All drug test results are reviewed and interpreted by a physician (Medical Review Officer (MRO) before they are reported to the employer. If the laboratory reports a positive result to the MRO, the MRO contacts the employee (in person or by telephone) and conducts an interview to determine if there is an alternative medical explanation for the drugs found in the employees' urine specimen. For all the drugs except PCP, there are some limited, legitimate medical uses that may explain the positive test result. If the employee provides appropriate documentation and the MRO determines that it is legitimate medical use of the prohibited drug, the drug test result is reported as negative to the employer.

What drug use is prohibited?Top

The drug rules prohibit any unauthorized use of the controlled substances. Illicit use of drugs by employees is prohibited.

What are the consequences of a positive drug test?Top

As with an alcohol misuse violation, an employee must be removed from performance of company duty if he/she has a positive drug test result. The MRO will interview the employee and determine that the positive drug test resulted from the unauthorized use of a controlled substance. If positive, a substance abuse professional (SAP) or MRO, will recommend rehabilitation. Any employee, who tests positive, will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

How does random drug testing work?Top

Employers are responsible for conducting random, unannounced drug tests. The total number conducted each year must equal at least 50% of all employees. Some employees may be tested more than once each year; some may not be tested at all depending on the random selection. Random testing for drugs does not have to be conducted in immediate time proximity to performing company functions. Once notified of selection for testing, however, an employee must proceed to a collection site to accomplish the urine specimen collection.

Are employee education and training required?Top

Employers must provide information on drug use and treatment resources to all employees. All supervisors and officials of businesses with employees must attend at least one hour of training on the signs and symptoms of drug abuse. This mandatory training is necessary to assist supervisors and company officials in making appropriate determinations for reasonable suspicion testing.

Are employee drug testing records confidential?Top

Yes! Employee drug testing results and records are maintained under strict confidentiality by the employer / third party administrator, the drug testing laboratory, and the medical review officer. They cannot be released to others without the written consent of the employee. Exceptions to these confidentiality provisions are limited to a decision maker in arbitration, litigation or administrative proceedings arising from a positive drug test. Statistical records and reports are maintained by employers and drug testing laboratories. This information is aggregated data and is used to monitor compliance with the rules and to assess the effectiveness of the drug testing programs.

Where can I get more information?Top

Go to our home page and click on the "Contact Us" tab at the top of the page.  You can also call us at either of the numbers listed on the "Home" page.

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