July 1994

Workplace Labor Update - DOT Begins Alcohol Testing Program – July 1994

2 min

The Department of Transportation has announced its final rules establishing an alcohol testing program and revising existing drug testing requirements for the transportation industry. The affected modes of transportation include: airlines, railroads, trucking and commercial vehicles, mass transit, and maritime vessels. In addition to the employees currently covered by the drug testing program, the new drug program modifies record retention requirements and expands coverage to 3 million workers involved with intrastate trucking, school buses, motor coaches, government vehicles, and mass transit. In all, the program will cover 7.4 million workers.

The new alcohol testing program is designed to deter alcohol misuse through the use of five required testing situations and is limited to those persons performing safety-sensitive functions. Testing may be conducted:

  • Post-accident: whenever the employer determines that alcohol could have been a contributing factor. This test must be conducted within eight hours of the accident.

  • Random: at an initial rate of 25%. However, this rate can be reduced to 10% when testing for two consecutive years yields a violation rate of less than .5%.
  • Suspicion of misuse: this test may only be given if the supervisor has observed the employee just prior, or just after the employee has performed a safety-sensitive function.

  • Return from treatment or rehabilitation: in this situation, the employee will also be tested six times during the first year back on the job.

    The program also regulates daily alcohol use. Employees covered under this new policy may not consume alcohol within 4 hours (8 hours for flight crews) of performing their safety-sensitive function. A violation of this policy results in either temporary removal from the job for up to eight hours or removal from the job and evaluation by a substance abuse counselor.

    The new DOT plan takes effect on January 1, 1995 for employers with more than 50 employees and on January 1, 1996 for those with under 50 employees.

    The entire text of the rules is published in the February 15, 1994 edition of the Federal Register.