It’s important to understand the differences between DOT and non-DOT drug and alcohol testing program requirements. DOT companies must adhere to very specific testing procedures and processes. For non-DOT companies, the testing program requirements are less stringent, but no less vital. While there is a great deal of leeway in terms of what companies are required to do under the law, there are a few basics to know.
Set Your Company Policy
The first thing to understand is that the only real legal requirement for non-DOT companies is to have a company policy regarding drug and alcohol use in place and to ensure that supervisors are trained in enforcing and implementing that policy. It’s also important to have employees trained in drug and alcohol awareness.
Non-DOT companies follow a similar battery of test types, although there are differences in how a testing program will handle specimens, and the priority of DOT and non-DOT tests (DOT tests always take precedence under federal guidelines).
Your company should institute a random drug and alcohol testing policy. DOT companies test roughly 50% of their workforce each year for drugs, and 10% of their workforce for alcohol (with a couple of notable exceptions). There is no required random testing percentage for non-DOT companies, but a minimum of 10% per year is a good rule of thumb to follow.
Reasonable suspicion tests are routinely used in DOT companies, but non-DOT companies are not required by law to perform these. However, they’re important tools, and a trained supervisor can make a very significant difference in safety by identifying employees who seem to be suffering the effects of drug or alcohol use while on the job. Reasonable suspicion tests can help mitigate the devastating impact of substance abuse in the workplace.
Post-accident testing is another important consideration. While non-DOT drug and alcohol testing program requirements don’t mandate this, employers often find it invaluable. Tests should be administered after an accident resulting in a worker’s compensation claim, injuries needing immediate medical treatment, or fatalities.
Return to duty testing should be performed for any employee who was suspended or otherwise censured after testing positive on a non-DOT drug and alcohol test. This should be accompanied by random follow-up tests for roughly 12 months after the employee returns to work.
While non-DOT drug and alcohol testing program requirements are less stringent than those for DOT companies, they’re no less essential to creating a safe work environment.