Drug & alcohol testing in a COVID-19 environment

by <a href="mailto:melissat@awcnet.org">D&A staff</a> | Mar 23, 2020
On March 13, 2020, the President issued <a target ="_blank" href="https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/2020-03/FMCSA%20Emergency%20Declaration%203.13.20.pdf">Emergency Declaration 2020-20</a> granting regulatory relief for commercial motor carrier operations that are providing emergency relief for the COVID-19 outbreak.

On March 13, 2020, the President issued Emergency Declaration 2020-20 granting regulatory relief for commercial motor carrier operations that are providing emergency relief for the COVID-19 outbreak. The Declaration reinforces the continued need for all drug and alcohol testing under the Federal Motor Carrier & Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules. Additionally, this morning, the US Department of Transportation Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy & Compliance (ODAPC) issued this guidance to all DOT-regulated employers, employees and service agents.

AWC staff have responded to a number of inquiries and/or addressed concerns regarding their local collection site:

  • Extended wait times.
  • Hospital/clinic notices steering non-emergent patients to not enter the facility.
  • Employees concerned for their health and refusing to test.

Here are a few important things to remember and key tips to help your employees:

  • Random testing needs to continue.
  • Call ahead to your collection site to set an appointment for random test.
  • If collection site is unwilling to take an employee for testing, contact AWC or WorkSafe Service. We will find an alternate test site for you.
  • If an employee is concerned about their safety, the employer can defer the test to a later date that month, or consider mobile testing.
  • If the employer is unable to conduct the test due to supply shortages, collection site closures and/or quarantine, the employer must document the reasons and retain the record.  
  • A refusal to test will be considered a test positive. Remind the employee of this policy. If refusal to test persists, then the DER will need to respond according to policy.

The COVID-19 situation is changing daily, and we are mindful of the impact it has had on complying with the U.S. DOT drug and alcohol testing rules. Please know that AWC staff are available to help you navigate this fluid situation.

EAP – A vital resource for your employees – and you
In challenging and stressful times, it is important that we are more attentive than ever to our employees' emotional, physical and mental well-being. Coping skills are challenged and those who struggle in dealing with stress, may turn to misuse, overuse or addiction of alcohol or controlled substances. It will be important that you remind employees about the resources available through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

Check with your health plan and stock up on electronic materials such as flyers and posters. Ask for printed wallet cards for those still in the office.

Post an intranet reminder to all staff about the EAP, including the phone number and web address.

Take care of yourself as a supervisor ~ Use the EAP as a resource.

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