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DOT guidelines for drug and alcohol testing during the pandemic

New guidelines from the US Department of Transportation (DOT) are designed to clarify alcohol and drug tests for federally regulated transportation workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During these demanding times, guidance can help carriers to see the most relevant points in the existing regulations.

One of the most important points is that motor carriers are still required to conduct pre-employment drug testing.

But the guidelines recognise that complying with alcohol and drug testing regulations may not be possible due to the unavailability of:

  • Breath-alcohol technicians
  • Substance abuse professionals
  • Collection sites
  • Medical review professionals

Employers are asked to make a reasonable effort to locate these.

If fixed-site collection facilities are not available, employers should consider mobile collection services.

If unable to conduct drug or alcohol testing or training due to COVID-19-related supply shortages or similar, employers are asked to document why they chose not to perform testing.

Random drug testing must be spread throughout the year.

The DOT guidelines advise employers to review the requirements for testing before deciding to postpone it.

Should an employee refuse to test, the employer is responsible for assessing the circumstances of the refusal.

Some employees may be uncomfortable going to collection sites because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

So, employers are asked to confirm that the collection site or clinic has taken the necessary precautions against its spread.

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