Ever since the Federal Omnibus Transportation Employee Act was ratified in 1991, the United States Department of Transportation has been tasked with ensuring the safety and security of United States Transit by outlining rules and regulations related to substance abuse in safety-sensitive transportation roles. The primary source of governance is the 49 CFR Part 40, a 101 page document that outlines the rules that all regulated employees, employers, laboratories, administrators, collection facilities, and collectors must follow.
To ensure that the roadways, airways, and railways, are safe from alcohol-abusers in particular, the DOT requires that, under certain circumstances, these employees be screened for alcohol use and abuse by professionals called Screening Test Technicians and Breath Alcohol Technicians. These professionals must receive training specific to the DOT regulations and specific to the device or devices they will use in the field.
There is an expansive list of devices on the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration’s Conforming Product’s List (CPL). Some of these devices are approved for use as an Alcohol Screening Device (ASD) and others may be used as Evidential Breath Testing (EBT) devices. In practice, Alcohol Screening Devices are often less expensive than Evidential Breath Testing devices because they operate with less functionality. To be adequately prepared for both screening and confirmation, an EBT device is highly recommended, though often slightly more expensive. These are equipped and authorized to conduct both screening (the initial breath test) and confirmation (a secondary test verifying the initial result if positive).
There are two titles used in the industry to classify those who are qualified to conduct alcohol tests: Screening Test Technicians (STTs) and Breath Alcohol Technicians (BATs). An STT is qualified to use either an ASD (Alcohol Screening Device) or an EBT (Evidential Breath Testing Device) to conduct screening tests, but not to conduct confirmation tests. A BAT (Breath Alcohol Technician), on the other hand, is qualified to perform both screening and confirmation tests using an EBT device.
According to the 49 CFR Part 40, training must include education on the regulations (49 CFR Part 40), on the specific device to be used in the field, and it must include at least 7 initial proficiency demonstrations monitored by a qualified instructor. Mandatory refresher training is required every 5 years, but is recommended at least every two years to ensure 100% proficiency and knowledge of the ever-changing regulations.
The alcohol testing industry has grown steadily since its start in the thirties, but the supply for qualified technicians has not met the growth in demand, perhaps as a result of the substantially larger investment required to purchase an EBT device in comparison with other careers in the industry. As a result, DOT qualified Breath Alcohol Technicians are often considered the most sought-after professionals in drug and alcohol testing and collection.
FINDING THE RIGHT INSTRUCTOR
Whether you are an individual starting fresh in the industry or if you have an entire team of in-house technicians looking for initial and refresher training, it is important to find an instructor who can connect the needs of an organization with an appropriate program. Easler Education has been developing adult education and training programs for the drug and alcohol testing industry for over three years. They offer a wide variety of educational mediums including online courses at DrugTestingCourses.com, hybridized courses with online training and in-person training, and traditional training courses available in-person at our facility or on-location.