Each year, the Department of Transportation (DOT) releases guidelines to ensure the safe execution of transportation operations. Due to the unexpected surge of COVID-19, the DOT guidelines were updated later in 2020. 

Keep reading to learn how to comply with the DOT drug testing requirements for 2020. 

DOT-Regulated Employers

If you are a DOT-regulated employer, be sure to follow these guidelines: 

  • Compliance with Training and Testing Requirements: Every DOT-regulated employer must comply with the testing and training requirements. However, the DOT recognizes that compliance is not always possible, such as businesses that lack fixed-site collection facilities. Some examples are:
  • Collection sites
  • Breath Alcohol Technicians (BAT)
  • Medical Review Officers (MRO)
  • Substance Abuse Professionals (SAP)

If any of the fixed-site collection facilities are unavailable, employers should consider mobile collection services. 

  • Failure to Comply with DOT Drug Testing and Training Due to COVID-19: The surge of COVID-19 has caused challenges for employers to get a DOT drug test or continue with training. Such challenges may include: 
  • COVID-19 supply shortages
  • Facility closures
  • State or local shelter-in-place orders

If this happens to you, you must give notice about why you were unable to complete a DOT drug screen or training program. Employers must complete the training and testing when the next available opportunity arises.

  • Failure to Comply with DOT Drug Testing Due to Unavailability of Resources: If there aren’t testing resources available to comply with the DOT’s regulations, employers can either:
  • Deny permission to employees to perform safety-sensitive transportation functions. 
  • Not hire the individual (this only applies for Federal Aviation Administration employers)


Potential Health Risks for the Collection and Testing Process During COVID-19

Due to the current pandemic, many employers have concerns regarding exposure health risks. To ease the concerns, employers can apply flexible measures to postpone the collection and testing process. For further information, employers must review the applicable DOT Agency requirements for testing.

Evaluation of Employee’s Refusal to Get a DOT Drug Screen

Due to the health risks of COVID-19, the Department of Transportation asks employers to be empathetic with employees. However, it is the employer’s responsibility to evaluate properly why an employee refuses a drug test.

As a precautionary measure, the Department of Transportation recommends that employers check to see if collection sites are taking sanitary-safety measures against COVID. 

Modifications to Training and Testing Plans During COVID-19

Employers may need to change their regulations to ensure its efficacy during COVID. 

Training and testing plans should include the following measures:

  • Availability of collectors and collection sites
  • Have an alternate or back-up medical review officer
  • Count with a Breath Alcohol Technician (BAT)
  • Enable regular communication with service agents
  • Ensure the service agent that you are capable to carry out the DOT drug testing program. 

DOT-Regulated Employees

Employees must comply with the following Department guidelines: 

  • Falling Ill Due to COVID-19: Employees must get immediate medical care when presenting COVID-19 symptoms. If possible, notify your employer about your health status. Also, let your employer know if your health status allows you to keep working. 
  • Training and Testing Concerns Due to COVID-19: The coronavirus outbreak poses public health risks for DOT employees. The DOT encourages employers to implement safety measures against COVID. However, if you have any concerns about COVID-19, you must discuss them with your employer.

Determination of Refusal for Training and Testing

Keep in mind that it is on your employer to determine what is considered a refusal. For more information about this issue, review 49 CFR § 40.355(i).

At Soteria Screening Laboratories we can help you run drug screenings. We have safety measures against COVID-19. Reach out to us!

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