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Department of Transportation Raises 2020 Drug Testing Rates

The mission of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries. The FMCSA is primarily tasked with enforcing safety regulations and strengthening commercial vehicle operating and safety standards.

LHSFNA Management Co-Chairman Noel C. Borck

FMCSA controlled substance and alcohol testing regulations are in place to protect the safety of the traveling public. One of the areas the FMCSA oversees is random drug testing for drivers of commercial vehicles. As of January, the FMCSA has raised the random drug testing rate for drivers of commercial vehicles requiring a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to 50 percent. The previous random drug testing rate was 25 percent. The minimum annual percentage rate for random alcohol testing will remain at 10 percent.

“Employers should take time to educate workers about the potential safety and health consequences of drug use as well as the consequences of a positive test,” says LHSFNA Management Co-Chairman Noel C. Borck. “This includes sharing drug-free workplace policies and the circumstances under which employees may be tested. Both employers and workers should be prepared for random testing to increase from past levels.”

A minimum testing rate increase is mandated when the positive rate of random drug testing equals or exceeds one percent, which it did in the 2018 FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Testing Survey.

Drug testing data from Quest Diagnostics shows that workforce positivity rates in 2018 were at their highest mark since 2004. The positivity rate among U.S. employees in 2018 was 4.4 percent, a rate that’s been slowly climbing over the last several years. Overall, the transportation and warehousing sector has seen a 34 percent increase in positivity rates between 2015 and 2018. Marijuana continues to top the list of illicit drugs detected.

Potential Impact on Employers and Workers

Random or “spot” drug testing serves as a deterrent to drug use because testing is unannounced and has no advance warning. Using a random, computer-generated selection process, an employer selects one or more individuals from all the employees included in the organization’s workplace drug-testing program.

The LHSFNA recommends that signatory employers share information with employees about the potential safety and health consequences of drug use as well as the potential consequences for their employment following a positive test. Employees should understand drug-free workplace policies and the circumstances under which they are subject to testing. Employers should be prepared for more employees to be randomly drug tested than in the past and plan accordingly.

LHSFNA Resources

The Fund’s Marijuana and the Drug-Free Workplace pamphlet, Answering Your Questions on Why Using Marijuana Could Cost You Your Job and It’s Your Choice When You Know the Facts About Drugs and Alcohol all provide more information related to maintaining a drug-free workplace. LIUNA signatory employers and other LIUNA affiliates can order through our online Publications Catalogue.

The Fund’s Health Promotion Division is also available to review drug-free workplace policies and assist with employee and supervisor training.

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