At a time when we are more reliant than ever on the transportation industry as a supply chain for necessary goods, maintaining the safety of our truckers, pilots, maritime operators and others on the road is especially critical.
As the U.S. Department of Transportation has formulated its response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, it has had to weigh potentially conflicting needs and fears including:
- Recent alarming statistics showing increases in positive lab results for substance use and the potential repercussions on road, air and water safety.
- Public health recommendations for social distancing and local and state shelter in place mandates and the health fears of transportation employers and employees.
- Concerns by transportation businesses about efficient and affordable access to drug testing resources.
The DOT’s main goal has been “maintaining public safety while providing maximum flexibility to allow transportation industries to conduct their operations safely and efficiently during this period of national emergency.”
- DOT-regulated employers must comply with applicable DOT training and testing requirements. However, DOT recognizes that compliance may not be possible in certain areas due to the unavailability of program resources. Employers should make a reasonable effort to locate the necessary resources such as mobile collection services.
- Employers, who are unable to complete drug and alcohol testing because of COVID-19 related issues, need to follow DOT protocols for documenting why a test was not completed and ensure that testing and training are completed as soon as possible.
- If employers are unable to conduct DOT drug and alcohol testing due to the unavailability of testing resources, the underlying modal regulations continue to apply. For example, without a “negative” pre-employment drug test result, an employer may not permit a prospective or current employee to perform any DOT safety-sensitive functions.
- Employers should review the applicable DOT agency requirements for testing to determine whether there is room for flexibility in scheduling testing if the employee has health concerns.
- If an employee refuses to be tested, the employer needs to evaluate the circumstances and be sensitive to health concerns. DOT asks employers to verify with the clinic or collection site that it has taken the necessary precautions to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
- Employers should revisit back-up plans to ensure the plans are current and effective. Employers should also have regular communications with service agents regarding the service agent’s availability and capability to support your DOT drug and alcohol testing program.
- Employees in safety-sensitive positions should discuss any COVID-19-related health concerns with their employer.
TSS will make every effort to keep you updated on guidance from the DOT and its agencies. If you have any questions, please contact us with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.