Accidents can happen in any workplace, but some accidents require further testing and inquiry. When is a post accident drug test required? Workplace drug and alcohol use contributes to about 65% of all on-the-job accidents according to a Department of Labor study. Similarly, substance abuse contributes to between 38 and 50% of workers’ compensation claims. There are also accidents where serious damage, injury, or deaths occur. In these cases, drugs or alcohol should be ruled out as a factor in that accident.

Why A Post Accident Drug Test Might Be Needed

A post accident drug test is not always required. If your business is not government-regulated, you can decide how to handle post accident drug and alcohol testing. This protocol must be clearly stated in your company’s drug and alcohol policy. 

According to OSHA, however, automatic post accident drug testing is illegal. This is based on OSHA’s rule 29CFR parts 1904 and 1902. This rule says employers can’t deter proper reporting or retaliate against employees reporting workplace injuries. This includes drug testing or threats of drug testing to deter such reports. Employers can, however, require an employee to submit to a post accident drug test. This requires them to have good reason to believe drugs or alcohol use likely contributed to the accident.

Depending on which industry you’re working in, an accident could fall under one of several regulatory Department of Transportation departments. The vast majority of these fall under the purview of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). For the FMCSA standards, there are three guidelines to consider if testing is necessary. For simplicity’s sake, these have been summarized as “nurse, hearse, or wrecker.” If the accident required off-site treatment, caused a fatality, or damage that required towing, the FMCSA generally calls for testing.

Other regulatory agencies have different standards dealing with post accident drug testing as well. These agencies include the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Pipeline & Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA,) and the Federal Railway Administration (FRA). If involved in an accident involving these conditions, consult their standards to see if a post accident drug test is required.

How Post Accident Drug Testing Takes Place

Post accident drug testing should happen as soon after the accident as possible. Alcohol testing must be conducted within 8 hours of the accident, and drug testing within 32 hours. Maintain documentation and keep records, especially if tests couldn’t be completed within that timeframe. By FMCSA standards, the driver may continue to drive while waiting for results as long as law enforcement allows it. 

When tested by the government, they typically only allow breath alcohol tests and urine tests. Other businesses can choose between urine or oral fluid testing. Typically, hair testing is better for showing long-term patterns of repetitive drug use and is not appropriate for post accident testing. The employer must provide the collector or technician information including the type of test, DOT or non-DOT, the reason for the test, and contact information. 

Even if a post accident test determines drug or alcohol use, it alone cannot prove that use caused the accident. Most post accident drug testing takes place by FMCSA standards or something similar to it. Depending on what regulatory agency is involved (like the FAA, PHMSA, or FRA) they may have different standards or practices.

It’s also recommended that drivers are outfitted with a post accident kit in their vehicle. This should include things like vehicle registration, road flares, a flashlight, a first aid kit, and a pad & paper. Having a kit like this in the vehicle helps keep vital tools on hand when they’re most needed.

Turn to Soteria Drug Screening

If you’re an employer looking to order a post accident drug test, consider ordering your next test from Soteria Drug Screening. We have tests for a range of substances, including alcohol, marijuana, amphetamines/methamphetamines, and opioids.

We offer fast and accurate turnaround to help quickly sort out issues related to the accident. Setting up a company account with Soteria is quick and easy too. Call, visit our website, or talk to a specialist today to find out more.

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