Can you be certain that the people working on construction sites, delivering goods, fixing roads and doing other work on behalf of your town or city are sober and safe?
Not always. Often, municipalities don’t verify whether the companies they are doing business with comply with regulations requiring random drug testing.
When municipalities accept bids for jobs, any contract routinely includes language asking the bidder to certify that they will abide by all local, state, and federal laws. Without specific cause, however, municipalities typically don’t investigate further. So, it’s hardly surprising that some businesses, especially smaller, local companies don’t follow or know all regulations that apply to them.
A section of the law that is frequently overlooked is the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) rule, 49 CFR Part 40 and Part 382 of the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration, which requires that all employers of commercial drivers have a random drug and alcohol screening program that meets the requirements outlined in the regulations.
Why is this important?
The consequences are significant. Drug testing is a powerful deterrent to workplace drug use and provides employers with the tools they need to ensure a drug-free workplace.
Research shows workforce substance use has been on the rise in recent years. According to Quest Diagnostics, which analyzed 10 million workforce urine test results, the rate of workforce drug positivity hit a 14-year high in 2018. Positivity rates in the combined U.S. workforce increased nearly five percent in urine drug tests (4.2% in 2017 versus 4.4% in 2018), climbing to the highest level since 2004 (4.5%) and are now more than 25 percent higher than the thirty-year low of 3.5 percent recorded between 2010 and 2012.
These numbers are alarming not only because they reflect use in workplaces that do have testing (indicating that actual use may be much higher) but also because use has a direct impact on safety. The U.S. Department of Labor has reported that drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace causes 65 percent of on-the-job accidents and that 38 to 50 percent of all workers’ compensation claims are related to the abuse of alcohol or drugs in the workplace.
Certainly, this is a level of risk no municipality wants to enable. Forcing businesses that partner with a town or city to follow drug screening laws can help to make sure that those taking the wheel for the community are drug free.
TSS is on a Mission
TSS, Inc. The Safety Specialists is working with towns and cities all over the country to raise awareness about the significance of hiring only employers of commercial drivers who are in compliance with 49 CFR Part 40 and Part 382. This spring, we sent out a letter to more than 50 municipalities encouraging them to add new language to their Requests for Proposals (RFPs). (Find our letter here.)
Typically, RFPs call for bidders to submit a business license, proof of insurance, and perhaps corporate documents in their proposal. TSS is asking municipalities to also require proof that the bidder has the appropriate federally mandated drug and alcohol screening program as well as a certificate of compliance from the program administrator.
Making these minor additions to their RFPs, won’t increase the cost or work for municipalities, but will go far in ensuring that public work projects are drug-free.