How to Ensure You Comply with Drug Testing Standards as an Owner Operator
As an owner, one of the most important things you must do is ensure that your drivers are appropriately trained and certified. This includes ensuring they are compliant with industry drug testing standards. Drug testing standards not only help prevent accidents but also reduce liability for your business.
Here’s how you can ensure your trucking company complies with drug testing standards.
Regular Testing & Record Keeping
The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires that trucking companies randomly test their employees for drug use as part of their safety compliance program. Random tests should be conducted on all drivers on a regular basis and documented in detail. Additionally, all results from these tests should be kept on file by the employer for a minimum of five years. Doing this helps ensure that all drivers are held accountable for their actions and that there is an accurate record of any positive test results.
Follow Testing Guidelines
Luckily for trucking companies like yours, there is no guesswork when it comes to who at your company has to test and how they should be tested. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has established accessible and specific guidelines for drug testing that all employers can follow. These can be found on their website: Drug & Alcohol Testing Program | FMCSA. Following these guidelines will keep you and your employees in compliance with the DOT.
The DOT Testing Guidelines include:
– When testing drivers, the trucking company must use a certified laboratory and test according to the standards outlined in 49 CFR Part 40;
– Drivers should be tested prior to their first day of work, as well as randomly throughout their employment;
– Tests must be conducted for controlled substances, including marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and opiates;
– All positive test results must be reported to the DOT.
-All test results should be kept on record for at least five years.
Enforce Policies & Follow Up
As an employer, it is essential to enforce your company’s drug testing policies and procedures strictly. Doing so will help ensure that drivers understand drug use while under your employment is prohibited. In addition, strictly enforcing and making sure routine drug screenings are administered helps keep drivers from operating trucks while under the influence and putting their lives and others in danger. This, in turn, helps prevent putting your company at risk legally and financially.
Just as important as enforcing policies is, following up with drivers after taking a required drug test is also essential. Following up allows you to check and ensure drivers not only completed the test but did it in compliance with all DOT guidelines. Also, following up will enable you to let your employees know it was protocol and they were not explicitly targeted. This can help improve morale, ease any tensions your employees may have experienced in the process, and clear up misconceptions about why they had to test.
To maintain compliance, documenting all drug test results in detail is crucial. Having detailed documentation of the results helps protect your company from liability and keeps you in compliance with the DOT. Therefore, it is best practice to keep accurate records of each driver’s test results, including the date and time of the test, the type of test conducted, and any positive results.
How long should you keep the records?
In terms of drug test results, It is mandatory to keep a record of each employee’s test results for at least five years. Doing this helps ensure that your business remains compliant with DOT regulations and can protect you from potential liability issues in the future. Keeping updated and detailed records is the necessary paper trail to protect yourself legally. It can also offer insight into a driver’s patterns and allow you to intervene and help drivers when needed.
Drug Screenings & Background Checks
A lot can be done in the front end as a business owner to ensure your drivers are compliant with drug testing and you are protected. Before hiring a potential driver and letting them get behind the wheel of one of your trucks, it is best practice to conduct a thorough background check. The background check will give you insight into who the employee is and if they have had drug use or other serious incidents in the past. Also, when onboarding new employees, it is also required to conduct a new hire DOT drug screening before their first day. After onboarding the new hires, it is also required to do random drug screening periodically throughout their year of employment.
Taking these steps will make sure that only qualified individuals who have not used drugs recently are behind the wheel of your trucks. This knowledge will also give you peace of mind knowing that your drivers are following DOT regulations and keeping themselves and others safe while on the road.
Safety Training & Education
In addition to regular testing, it’s vital to provide safety training and education to your drivers. Routine safety training and education can help drivers understand the importance of staying compliant with drug testing standards and avoiding drug use on the job. The safety training can include educating them about the dangers associated with using drugs while operating a commercial vehicle. It can also provide information on the consequences they could face if they fail a drug test or are caught using drugs while driving. Safety training programs also ensure drivers know the proper steps to take to stay safe and healthy while behind the wheel. By providing this type of training, you can help minimize the risk of accidents due to driver negligence or impairment caused by drugs or alcohol.
And, that’s it!
All in all, making sure your trucking company complies with DOT drug testing guidelines is essential for both safety and liability reasons when running a successful business. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to understand all the guidelines and relay them to your employees. In addition, to protect your business and employees, perform required drug testing regularly, keep accurate and updated records of test results, implement a comprehensive safety training program, and conduct thorough background checks with all your employees. These are all key components in ensuring compliance with the DOT drug testing standards and keeping your employees and others safe on the road.
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