Last updated: January 18, 2021
On Monday, March 23rd, the DOT released compliance guidelines for DOT-regulated employers, employees, and service agents to follow during the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States.
The transportation industry is playing a vital role in reducing the negative impact this disease placed on our nation. That said, the DOT realizes there is a need to provide flexibility in regard to drug testing at this time. This will allow you to conduct your operation safely and efficiently during this period of national emergency.
Here are the revised guidelines.
The DOT recognizes that compliance may not be possible in all areas of the country. You may not have access to program resources. These include collection sites, Breath Alcohol Technicians, Medical Review Officers, and Substance Abuse Professionals.
- Make a reasonable effort to locate the necessary resources. If you’re unable to locate a fixed-site collection facility during this time, you can rely on a mobile collection service.
- If you are unable to conduct DOT drug or alcohol training or testing during this time due to facility closures, a lack of COVID-19-related supplies, state or locally imposed quarantine requirements, or other impediments, documentation of such is required. When postponing testing or training due to these reasons, to follow the applicable modal regulations.
- If you are unable to conduct pre-employment DOT drug and alcohol testing due to the unavailability of testing resources, a prospective or current employee may not perform any safety-sensitive functions. Moreover, in the case of the FAA, you can’t hire the individual.
- If an employee expresses concern about potential health risks during the outbreak, employers should review the applicable DOT Agency requirements for testing to determine if flexibilities allow for collection and testing at a later date.
- It’s the employer’s responsibility to evaluate the circumstances of an employee’s refusal to test due to health concerns. However, the DOT is aware of the health risk and asks employers to be sensitive to the employee’s concern. Contact the clinic or collection site to verify that they’re taking the necessary precautions to reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus.
- Revisit your back-up plan to ensure it’s current and effective for the current outbreak conditions. Contact your service agents regarding availability and capability to support your DOT drug and alcohol testing program.
To reduce the spread of the disease, employees should do the following:
- If experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms, employees should contact their medical provider. Then, contact their employer if advised to self-quarantine.
- If an employee has concerns about testing during the outbreak, they should discuss them with their employer.
- Remind employees that, ultimately, it is the employer’s responsibility to evaluate the circumstances of a refusal to test and determine if their actions should be considered a refusal to test as per 49 CFR § 40.355(i).
Collectors, BATs, laboratories, MROs, or SAPs should continue to provide services to DOT-regulated employers if possible. This, of course, is in accordance with state or local mandates related to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Concerns about the coronavirus when testing or interacting with employees should be addressed following their company policy, directions from state or local officials, and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.