In this article I'm going to introduce you to the 9 most important factors in getting your DOT drug and alcohol testing policy for FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) compliant with all regulations in 49CFR part 40. It's common for these regulations to be a major source of frustration for new entrant DOT companies and even for long time DOT carriers.
The DOT is very specific about what you need to do in your drug and alcohol testing program in order to stay compliant. You've probably heard of 49CFR part 40... if you haven't, you really need to have a copy on hand. It's definitely complicated legal-speak, if you need to be DOT drug and alcohol testing compliant for FMCSA... you must have it on hand.
Boiling down 49CFR part 40, you end up with the following 9 major areas for discussion:
1) Who should be covered by your DOT drug and alcohol testing policy
2) Generating an FMCSA DOT Drug and Alcohol Policy
3) Identifying your DER (Designated Employer Representative)
4) Employee Education
5) Pre-employment drug and alcohol testing
6) Collection of previous drug and alcohol test results
7) Implementation of random screenings
8) Supervisor Training
9) Post-accident Procedures
Without guidance along the way, it's really easy to get 49CFR part 40 wrong and get yourself into trouble and risk getting fined. Moreover, if you're a new company who is just registering with the DOT, you will be audited within your first 18 months for a new entrant safety audit.
A critical part of that audit is your drug and alcohol testing program. Violations on this audit can result in an automatic failure of the new entrant safety audit. And failing that audit is not something you want to mess around with!
I first want to explain who should be covered by your drug testing program. If you have ANY DRIVERS who operate vehicles with the following qualifications, you should have them in a DOT drug testing program.
Drivers you need to cover are anyone (full time, part time, or temporary) who drives a vehicle interstate or for intrastate commerce that is any one of the following:
1) Over 26,000 lbs. in gross weight inclusive of a towed unit with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 lbs.
2) A gross vehicle rating of 26,000 lbs or more.
3) If the vehicle is designed to transport 16 or more people including the driver.
4) If you are transporting hazardous materials that require the vehicle to be placarded.
Please also note that you SHOULD NOT leave it up to a staffing company to get these drivers drug and alcohol tested or to ensure that they are FMCSA compliant.
YOUR company is the one on the hook if any of these policies are not followed properly. There are no risks to the staffing company if they send you drivers that are not enrolled in the proper program... all that liability falls on your company.
Now that we know who should be in your DOT drug testing program... let's talk about the DOT drug and alcohol testing policy itself.
These policies are very specific to meet the DOT standards with only a few options to customize the policy for your specific company. The policy is required to have several mandates written in the policy. A good DOT policy is typically 15-18 pages long.
You should refer to 49CFR Part 40 to understand these guidelines as well as 49CFR part 382. If you hire someone to write one of these policies for you, you should make 100% sure that whoever you hire has written DOT policies before.
If they only write state or local drug free workplace policies, they won't necessarily understand the specifics of a DOT policy. The person you hire should understand 49CFR Part 40 and should be able to reference this document.
Just as critical to your success in maintaining your DOT compliance for FMCSA drug and alcohol testing are the remaining 7 steps, including identification of your DER, employee education, screening implementation and post-accident testing.
These things are topics in themselves so keep an eye out for future articles!