The end of any calendar year is a good time to review your DOT drug and alcohol testing program. Now that 2021 has ended, you might want to take some time to examine the following six points on your program management.
1. Random Drug & Alcohol Tests. By December 31st, your completed random tests must equal at least 50 percent of your average number of drivers for drugs and 10 percent of your average number of drivers for alcohol. If you have had canceled and/or missed tests from earlier in the year that leaves you short, you must select a higher rate in your remaining draw to compensate. The end of 2021 is also a time to look at the upcoming year. If the FMCSA were to change its testing rates for 2022, it would probably announce it in December. In the event testing rates change, the information will trigger a series of actions for the carrier, including confirming its consortium/third-party administrator is aware of the change, if applicable, notifying those who handle the motor carrier’s expenses (program costs change), and updating the company’s DOT alcohol and drug policy and education materials.
2. Testing Cycles. If you had difficulty in completing your random tests during 2021, it may be time to look at your testing cycles. When deciding on how often to run your random pull, you need to take into consideration the time frame in which you must perform the tests. There is no right or wrong answer. You need to examine what fits best within your operation – especially if your testing periods in 2021 didn’t work out as you had hoped. A shorter testing cycle (monthly) provides for less time to notify drivers but offers fewer drivers to test. A longer testing cycle (quarterly) may give you more time, but you have more names to send within that time period. Testing more often allows you to work in seasonal spikes or drops to be more accurate in your average number of drivers. If you have seasonal workers, you may want to schedule the draw to include the temporary workers and allow enough time to perform the tests.
3. Service Agents. The regulations state that motor carriers are held responsible for the actions of their service agents (collection sites, medical review officers, C/TPAs) as they carry out DOT testing requirements. All agreements with the service agents must require compliance with the regulations. During an audit, motor carriers cannot use the defense that it was a service agent who violated the safety regulations and not them (see 40.15c). With that said, if a specific service agent consistently made mistakes throughout 2021, you may need to find an alternate provider for the new year. Whether you stay with your current collection site or MRO, or seek out other providers, you are within your regulatory right to ask to see their training records.
4. Policy Review. It is a wise practice to periodically review your company’s drug and alcohol policy for internal and regulatory changes. Drivers should be notified if any company specifics changed, such as the point of contact for the drivers, any company consequences for engaging in prohibited behavior (termination vs. second chances), and optional provisions (such as a retest for negative dilute).
5. Internal Processes. Those at the motor carrier who are responsible for managing your DOT testing program should routinely look at internal processes. These audits may reveal areas to improve on. In many cases, the solution to a problem may be as simple as creating calendar tasks or a checklist to remind personnel to perform certain actions such as annual Clearinghouse queries, pre-employment drug tests, pre-employment Clearinghouse queries, issuance of the company policy and educational materials, sending out drug and alcohol checks to former employers, and keeping an accurate driver roster for random selections.
6. Assigned Roles. When a motor carrier assigns roles (designated employer representative, trained supervisor for reasonable suspicion testing, and program manager), it is vital that each knows the safety regulations and has the skills to perform for the role. If the role is not a fit, this new year may be an opportunity to review and reassign who is doing what within your DOT testing program. To learn more about how NTA can help you prepare for your 2022 DOT Drug & Alcohol Testing Program, contact us at (800) 805-0040 ext. 102 or visit our website (www.ntassoc.com) today.
On a final note this month, we are delighted to announce that the NTA’s Drug & Alcohol Testing Program is merging with Nationwide Testing Association of Mooresville, NC. This partnership brings together two organizations with over 70 years of combined experience supporting transportation and logistics companies across the country. If you are a NorthAmerican Transportation Association (NTA) member, beginning January 1, 2022, Nationwide Testing Association will be managing your drug and alcohol testing program.
Nationwide Testing Association offers an experienced and well-trained staff with a wide array of services including an enhanced on-site testing program, a broader selection of laboratories and collection locations, and a broader offering of online services, which include online collection site locations, online management reports, and online random pool management. Each and every existing client MUST register online to continue their program.
We at NTA encourage all our drug and alcohol testing members to get set up as soon as possible. You can follow this link: https://www.idrugscreen.com/Articles.asp?ID=275. We are here to help you with the process to ensure a smooth and timely transition. If you have any questions, feel free to call (800) 452-0030 ext. 2. We at NTA would like to wish each and every one of you a very Happy New Year!