Distinguishing Error-Correction Training from Refresher Training Under the DOT Regulations

by | Mar 3, 2020

There are three types of training required for DOT Urine Specimen Collectors, Breath Alcohol Technicians (BATs), and Screening Test Technicians (STTs) under the 49 C.F.R. § 40.

Initial Training

This is a term which refers exclusively to the first step in the qualification process under either 49 C.F.R. Part 40.33 or 49 C.F.R. Part 40.213. This includes three components: Basic Information, Qualification Training, and Initial Proficiency Demonstrations.

Basic Information Training refers to education on the applicable regulations and guidance for the role you will be fulfilling.

For Collectors, this means they must be knowledgeable of the following:

  • 49 C.F.R. Part 40;
  • DOT Urine Specimen Collection Guidelines; and
  • The agency regulations applicable to the employers for whom you perform collections:
    • FMCSA (49 CFR Part 382)
    • FAA (14 CFR Part 120)
    • FRA (49 CFR Part 219)
    • FTA (49 CFR Part 655)
    • PHMSA (49 CFR Part 199)
    • USCG (46 CFR Parts 4 & 16)[1]
  • Note that collectors who perform specimen collections under HHS authority must also be knowledgeable of the following regulations and Guidance:
    • Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs (Urine)
    • Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs—Oral/Fluid
    • Urine Specimen Collection Handbook (and accompanying resources)

For Screening Test Technicians and Breath Alcohol Technicians, this means they must be knowledgeable of the following:

  • 49 C.F.R. Part 40; and
  • Current DOT Guidance[2]
  • Note that STTs and BATs who perform alcohol tests under HHS authority must also be knowledgeable of the following regulation and Guidance:
    • Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing

Qualification Training refers to the second component of required training and includes a comprehensive run-through of the actual procedures for testing or collection.

For collectors, this means:

  1. All steps necessary to complete a collection correctly and the proper completion and transmission of the CCF;
  2. “Problem” collections (e.g., situations like “shy bladder” and attempts to tamper with a specimen);
  3. Fatal flaws, correctable flaws, and how to correct problems in collections; and
  4. The collector’s responsibility for maintaining the integrity of the collection process, ensuring the privacy of employees being tested, ensuring the security of the specimen, and avoiding conduct or statements that could be viewed as offensive or inappropriate.[3]

For STTs and BATs, this means training in accordance with the DOT Model BAT or STT course with requirements that:

  1. The course cover training on the alcohol testing procedures and also training on the operation of the specific device(s) the BAT or STT will utilize in practice;[4]
  2. The training must emphasize that the BAT or STT is responsible for maintaining the integrity of the testing process, ensuring the privacy of employees being tested, and avoiding conduct or statements that could be viewed as offensive or inappropriate; and
  3. The instructor be competent and qualified per the requirements of the regulation.

Initial Proficiency Demonstration refers to the final culmination of the training for the agent where they will demonstrate their understanding of both the regulations and the procedures involved before a qualified instructor.

For collectors and STTs, this means performing at least five error-free “mocks” on the scenarios described in the applicable regulation witnessed by a qualified “monitor”.

For BATs this means performing at least seven error-free “mock” tests in accordance with the regulations witnessed by a qualified “monitor”.

Refresher Training

Refresher training is the term used for the training required every 5 years per 49 C.F.R. Part 40.33 and 49 C.F.R. § 40.213. It should not and is not used to refer to anything other than this 5-year renewal requirement. The refresher training must cover at least Qualification Training and Initial Proficiency Demonstrations as described in the initial training requirements.

Error Correction Training

If a fatal flaw is made by a collector or technician, it requires the individual who discovers it to ensure the collector or technician conducts “Error Correction Training” within the subsequent 30 days of the notification of the fatal flaw.  “Refresher Training” does not meet this requirement.

Error Correction Training must be conducted by a person who qualifies as a monitor for the initial proficiency demonstrations and be documented in writing by that person. It should cover only the subject matter area(s) involved in the fatal flaw and the technician or collector must demonstrate proficiency by completing three consecutive error-free mocks—one uneventful scenario and two related to the fatal flaw.

If Error Correction training is not completed, then the collector or technician must stop collections until it is completed. However, this is all assuming that the precondition of a fatal flaw is satisfied. If there is no fatal flaw, then there is no mandate for “Error Correction Training”. A fatal flaw is limited to only errors in the procedure made by the collector or technician which cause the test to be canceled.

The list of fatal flaws for collectors includes the following:

  1. There is no CCF;
  2. In cases where a specimen has been collected, there is no specimen submitted with the CCF;
  3. There is no printed collector’s name and no collector’s signature;
  4. Two separate collections are performed using one CCF;
  5. The specimen ID numbers on the specimen bottle and the CCF do not match;
  6. The specimen bottle seal is broken or shows evidence of tampering (and a split specimen cannot be re-designated, see §40.83(h)); or
  7. Because of leakage or other causes, there is an insufficient amount of urine in the primary specimen bottle for analysis and the specimens cannot be re-designated (see §40.83(h)).

If not corrected, the following collector flaws will become fatal flaws:

  1. The collector’s signature is omitted on the certification statement on the CCF.
  2. As the MRO, when you discover a “correctable flaw” during your review of the CCF, you must cancel the test unless the flaw is corrected.
  3. The employee’s signature is omitted from the certification statement, unless the employee’s failure or refusal to sign is noted on the “Remarks” line of the CCF.
  4. The collector uses a non-Federal form or an expired CCF for the test. This flaw may be corrected through the procedure set forth in §40.205(b)(2), provided that the collection testing process has been conducted in accordance with the procedures in this part in an HHS-certified laboratory.

An interesting point to note here is that this list does not include a failure to conduct direct observation when a direct observation was necessary as this does not result in a cancelation.

The list of fatal flaws for technicians includes the following:

  1. In the case of a screening test conducted on a saliva ASD or a breath tube ASD:
    1. The STT or BAT reads the result either sooner than or later than the time allotted by the manufacturer and this Part (see §40.245(a)(8) for the saliva ASD and §40.245(b)(8) for the breath tube ASD).
    2. The saliva ASD does not activate (see §40.245(a)(7); or
    3. The device is used for a test after the expiration date printed on the device or on its package (see §40.245(a)(1) for the saliva ASD and §40.245(b)(1) for the breath tube ASD).
    4. The breath tube ASD is tested with an analyzer which has not been pre-calibrated for that device’s specific lot (see §40.245(b)(1)).
  2. In the case of a screening or confirmation test conducted on an EBT, the sequential test number or alcohol concentration displayed on the EBT is not the same as the sequential test number or alcohol concentration on the printed result (see §40.253(c), (e) and (f)).
  3. In the case of a confirmation test:
    1. The BAT conducts the confirmation test before the end of the minimum 15-minute waiting period (see §40.251(a)(1));
    2. The BAT does not conduct an air blank before the confirmation test (see §40.253(a));
    3. There is not a 0.00 result on the air blank conducted before the confirmation test (see §40.253(a)(1) and (2));
    4. The EBT does not print the result (see §40.253(f)); or
    5. The next external calibration check of the EBT produces a result that differs by more than the tolerance stated in the QAP from the known value of the test standard. In this case, every result of 0.02 or above obtained on the EBT since the last valid external calibration check is cancelled (see §40.233(a)(1) and (c)(3)).
  4. If not corrected, the following flaws will also become fatal:
    1. The BAT or STT does not sign the ATF (see §§40.247(a)(1) and 40.255(a)(1)).
    2. The BAT or STT fails to note on the “Remarks” line of the ATF that the employee has not signed the ATF after the result is obtained (see §40.255(a)(3)).
    3. The BAT or STT uses a non-DOT form for the test (see §40.225(a)).

[1] 49 C.F.R. Part 40.33(a) (2020).

[2] 49 C.F.R. Part 40.213(a) (2020).

[3] 49 C.F.R. Part 40.33(b) (2020).

[4] 49 C.F.R. Part 40.213(b) (2020).

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