What are the benefits of reasonable suspicion training?
- Published: 12/16/2018
- Updated: 03/14/2023
Supervisor training is legally necessary, and your entire workplace will benefit from having a competent supervisor that is equipped with the proper knowledge to handle tough and even dangerous situations. Not only will you have a more confident supervisor, but a few hours of training can also save lives and money. Because the FMCSA rules that cover safety-sensitive positions in the workplace are specific and cover many positions including driving a commercial motor vehicle, inspecting or servicing equipment on motor vehicles, and even the loading and unloading of commercial motor vehicles, a good supervisor is essential in the success of every member of a team.
Advanced Awareness of the Team
One of the biggest benefits to supervisor training is a better idea of what to look for in a team member that hints at impairment of any kind. Since your supervisors are in the best position to get to know employees, they will also know when things are strange. With proper training, a supervisor will know how to handle these situations and determine if the employee is simply having a bad day or personal problem, or if a DOT exam is required.
This also means that a supervisor can properly assess whether an employee is exemplary and deserves more credit or a bonus for what they do, which helps raise team morale and build loyalty to your company.
Knowledge of the Small, but Necessary, Details of DOT Exam Requirements
Even if a supervisor does a perfect documentation and analysis job when considering if someone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, small details must be addressed that are easily missed without proper training. For example, the FTA indicates that an alcohol violation is only if the blood alcohol content (or the BAC) is over .04. This is when more serious consequences occur. However, a properly trained manager or supervisor also knows that if the BAC is anywhere between .02 and .039, an employee must be released from work for the day unless a retest indicates a BAC of less than .02.
Consequences of safety-sensitive employees that had a BAC between .02 and .039, above and beyond being released from work for the day, varies from organization to organization but must include a written notice of the organization’s drug and alcohol policies and testing procedures and a training session the signs and symptoms of drug and alcohol misuse.
Knowing When to Document, Act, and Refer to a Program
When should a supervisor document an employee’s suspicious actions, and when should they approach the employee to talk about the situation that was observed? A well-trained supervisor will know this process well and know the steps to ensure that the employee’s rights are not violated and the company is not liable for any lawsuits or legal action. In addition, the same manager will be able to refer an employee that is struggling with either alcohol or drug addiction to proper, affordable programs for help, and can assist in finding a program that will support an employee through their hardship.
An expert supervisor will also have built rapport with an employee and perhaps be able to suggest the best program based on what he or she knows about the employee. An organization should continue to offer support to employees that choose to attend recovery programs. An otherwise solid employee, once recovered, may be permitted to return to work based on the company’s decision; however, it will be the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the employee is not a danger to themselves or the public once they have returned.
Feeling Confident to Respond to a Workplace Crisis
Anyone in a supervisory role should have a sound mind and a good head, making them less likely to panic in a difficult situation; however, training is essential to ensure the safety of all employees. Highly-charged situations can become unpredictable quickly, and your supervisor should know what questions to ask, how to remain calm, and note what they should be documenting and listening for during the crisis.
This is especially important when it comes to drug and alcohol crises. Equipped with the proper knowledge will help the manager understand how to handle an event, no matter how the employee reacts, and they’ll know what they should record and how to properly listen to an employee’s statements and repeat them back to clarify understanding.
A properly trained supervisor understands their employees, understands their workplace rules, and understands federal and state regulations. Not only does this make them more valuable to you, it means you’ll be less likely to face lawsuits and other difficult situations.
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