- August 30, 2014
- Posted by: Andrew Easler
- Category: Testing
Anyone at all who is defined within the DOT (Department of Transportation) regulations as being a “safety-sensitive” employee is subject to routine drug and alcohol tests.
Persons who are employed in the aviation industry, as a member of the flight crew, a flight attendant, air traffic controller, aircraft dispatcher, aircraft maintenance worker or preventative maintenance worker, aviation screener or ground safety coordinator, are considered “safety-sensitive” employees under FAA regulations.
Commercial Motor Transport
Commercial drivers who operate motor vehicles that exceed 26,000 pounds gross weight, or that carry 16 or more passengers (including the driver), or who transport hazardous materials qualify as “safety-sensitive” employees under FMCSA regulations. Some states will allow exemptions for operators of farm equipment or fire trucks.
Crew members who operate commercial vessels are considered to be “safety-sensitive” workers.
Pipeline workers responsible for maintenance and emergency response are designated as “safety sensitive.” Railroad personnel involved with the operation of engines, trains or signal service, and also train dispatchers are considered “safety-sensitive” workers. So are transit workers, including vehicle operators, controllers, armed security and mechanics. You can find links to the relevant regulations at https://www.transportation.gov/odapc.
It’s About More than Job Title
It’s the actual work performed, not just the job title, that determines whether an employee is “safety-sensitive.” Employees who are qualified to perform certain jobs, but who are not currently doing so, may also have to be tested – this applies, for example, to managers who may suddenly have to fill in and perform tasks that would ordinarily fall to an employee who has called off sick.
It’s quite simply about public safety. Since 1991, DOT agencies have been required under the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act to implement drug and alcohol testing of any employees that qualify as “safety-sensitive.” Within the DOT, ODAPC (Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance) publishes rules governing how the tests have to be conducted, what procedures have to be used, and how and when an employee can be returned to “safety-sensitive” duties. 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 40 provides the authoritative and definitive interpretations of the rules. DOT agencies specify who has to be tested, and in what situations, as well as how often, and industry employers are responsible for implementing those regulations that apply to their particular sector.
When public safety is at stake, effective drug and alcohol testing protocols take on paramount importance. Drug and alcohol testing courses are available that are designed to meet the incredible demand for effective testing as mandated by the DOT and required of employers. Currently, there are tens of thousands of jobs available in both the public and private sector, just waiting for qualified people to fill them.
What does the future hold? Likely even more jobs. The requirements for accountability when it comes to public safety are only likely to become more stringent. Training is available, cost-effective, and increasingly needed to fulfill the demand for drug and alcohol test technicians.