Agencies under DOT are a group of organizations that have been granted the right to perform specific tasks and duties following the Department of Transportation's Laws, rules, regulations, and orders.
In the United States, the primary mission of DOT is to develop and enforce legislation on transportation issues, including safety and operations; to establish rules for the safe and efficient operation of vehicles, traffic signals, and other devices on roadways; to acquire vehicles from the public, and to promote economic growth through investments in transportation infrastructure.
However, in addition to these roles, the Department of Transportation uses several agencies to carry out specific functions. Let's take a look at the most commonly referenced agencies under DOT and the functions that they serve.
Table Of Contents:
- FMCSA Post Accident Drug Testing
- FAA Drug Testing
- FRA 219 Drug Testing
- PHMSA Drug Testing
- What Happens If You Fail A USCG Drug Test?
FMCSA Post Accident Drug Testing
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is an agency under DOT responsible for enforcing drug and alcohol regulations in the commercial vehicle industry. The agency ensures that carriers strictly follow company policies and procedures on drug testing and enforce stricter penalties on trucking companies who fail to adhere to these rules.
When a driver is involved in an accident, the carrier must investigate to determine the cause of the crash. It is where drugs and alcohol testing comes into play. A company must follow federal guidelines on drug and alcohol testing after any reportable accident incident. Additionally, it is advisable to conduct a drug test as soon as possible.
The main purpose of these rules is to maintain public safety and ensure truck drivers are fit to operate commercial vehicles. An employer can also be charged if they fail to perform the required testing or notify the FMCSA of any positive drug or alcohol testing result.
The FMCSA is serious about ensuring that its rules are followed, so it recommends conducting follow-up tests to ensure that a driver does not use drugs or alcohol after an accident. Moreover, there are certain circumstances when an employer has to notify the agency.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has mentioned the requirements, so employers consider that any violation might have severe consequences. For example, if an employee who has been drug tested and test results come back with a positive result, it must be reported to the FMCSA within 24 hours by sending a secure electronic or hard-copy message.
Failure to do so can result in a fine and possibly even suspension of an employer's CDL license for one year or more. In addition, the DOT also provides an online search tool that can be used to search for drug- and alcohol-positive results reported by the FMCSA. Therefore, employers need to keep up to date with FMCSA regulations.
FAA Drug Testing
The Federal Aviation Administration is a highly respected federal agency under the Department of Transportation (DOT) and an industry leader in providing safe and secure air travel for the public.
The FAA continually strives to maintain a drug-free workplace because of the critical nature of its responsibilities. Drug testing in the Federal Aviation Administration ensures that pilots, air traffic controllers, and other critical employees can discharge their duties safely. The FAA drug testing policies are clear and apply across the board to all applicants, regardless of whether they have prior knowledge of the procedures or are trained.
The FAA drug testing is held at various times during an employee's service with the FAA. These are generally during the application, before employment, and random drug testing. The FAA drug testing policies clearly state what kind of drugs it will test for, how often it will test for those drugs, and how long a positive drug test means for an employee.
Therefore, once the applicant understands these policies, it is possible to prepare oneself to pass any given FAA drug test with flying colors. On the other hand, post-accident drug testing is also a part of the FAA drug testing policies.
The post-accident drug testing is done on a case-by-case basis and when there are reasonable causes to believe that an employee is under the influence of drugs. A reasonable suspicion drug test results are used with other evidence to determine if an employee is fit for duty as per the FAA policies.
So, a failure in any one of the areas would result in an automatic disqualification from employment with the Federal Aviation Administration. Therefore, a positive drug test is grounds for dismissal at any point in time.
FRA 219 Drug Testing
The Federal Railroad Administration is one of the DOT agencies that conduct drug-testing programs and is responsible for promoting railroad safety by enforcing the drug-testing rules and regulations.
The Federal Railroad Administration's drug-testing program applies to a contractor employee or subcontractor directly impacting safety functions. Also, the agency monitors railroad safety and several other issues such as hazardous materials, maintenance of bridges and tunnels, and train control.
The Federal Railroad Administration has been issuing drug-testing orders to railroads since 1991. The Federal Railroad Administration's drug-testing program requires that each rail operator establish a drug-testing program that is reasonably necessary to maintain a drug-free workplace.
The Department of Transportation requires railroads to conduct unannounced, random train and locomotive drug testing. Today, the railroad's drug-testing program is considered one of the most comprehensive in the transportation industry.
The various stages at which a railroad employee can be tested for drugs include pre-employment, post-accident, reasonable suspicion, random, and return-to-duty testing. Employees who test positive may face an adverse action or termination of employment if they refuse to participate or fail to pass the procedure.
An employer who fails to comply with the drug-testing program may face a fine from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Therefore, railroads have to conduct a drug-testing program reasonably related to the railroad's safety-sensitive functions.
PHMSA Drug Testing
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is a United States Department of Transportation branch. The PHMSA is responsible for regulating all pipelines in the U.S., including intrastate and interstate pipelines that are hazardous materials transportation.
Additionally, PHMSA ensures that safety guidelines set forth by the DOT are followed, and it maintains a record of pipeline operators who have been sanctioned for violations. Under PHMSA regulations, employers must test their employees for drug use to ensure their safety and the safety of other workers.
The PHMSA has set standards for the type of tests allowed, and it has specified certain procedures for administering the tests. Employers must ensure that only qualified individuals administer drug tests and that the tests are conducted within certain time frames and under certain circumstances.
However, employers must follow several procedures and regulations to ensure that their employees have a safe workplace free from drug use. If an employer fails to comply with any of the regulations set forth by the PHMSA, they could face fines and penalties.
Under the PHMSA, an employee working in the transportation industry may be drug tested during the pre-employment process. Once hired, they may be drug tested at any time during the employment period.
If an employee tests positive for illegal drugs, alcohol, or another drug self-administered for illicit purposes, the employer has grounds to fire that employee. Additionally, employers must conduct reasonable cause drug testing for employees who work in certain jobs that place them at high risk for injuries.
In some cases, an employee who tests positive for drug use will not be fired from their job. These individuals may require disciplinary action or medical evaluation and treatment, but they must be allowed to continue working unless the employer receives a court order to terminate employment.
Suppose an employee is being fired for drug use or is being disciplined for drug use. In that case, the employer must follow the procedures and regulations set forth by the PHMSA to ensure that all decisions are made following federal law.
Therefore, it is essential for employers to note the requirements of federal regulations in drug testing and to follow their procedures and the rules set forth by PHMSA.
What Happens If You Fail A USCG Drug Test?
The USCG (United States Coast Guard) drug testing regulations require that any marine employer who has an employee subject to a drug test comply with the procedures stipulated in the USCG Drug Testing Program.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Coast Guard are interested in ensuring that all employees take responsibility for drug use that may cause impairment in their workplace. The Coast Guard drug testing procedures were created for two-fold purposes – to help safeguard the public and prevent drug use in the marine industry.
The USCG is committed to helping marine employers prevent drug use and at the same time help employees who have a problem with drugs to overcome their tendencies towards impairment.
The USCG has developed procedures to help maintain an effective drug testing program that promotes safety for all workers. However, drug tests that an employer must administer to comply with the USCG drug testing regulations are pre-employment, post-accident, random, and reasonable suspicion.
Each of these tests has slightly different procedures and requirements that must be followed. These regulations have been developed through years of experience in the Coast Guard's drug-testing program. They are created to provide maximum safety for all workers in the marine industry.
Suppose an employer decides not to follow the pre-employment, post-accident, random, or reasonable suspicion drug testing requirements. In that case, they will face various penalties and could face a suspension or revocation of the license or document.
All marine employers need to conduct a drug test at some point after an accident has occurred—this is how a maritime employer shows that they have taken the appropriate steps to follow the USCG Drug Testing Program.
Moreover, if an employee fails a drug test due to a false positive, they have the opportunity to have another test done only if they fulfil certain requirements. It is important to remember that a positive result on a drug test will be treated similarly to a refusal, and as such, an employee may face the same sanctions as if they had refused to take a drug test.
On the other hand, if an employee is convicted of a drug offense, they will have their license or document revoked and will no longer work. Therefore, complying with USCG drug testing regulations is an important step for every marine employer to promote a safe workplace environment.
Agencies under DOT ensure the safety of workers in each different sector of the transportation industry. Every employee and employer must keep in mind their obligations to ensure a safe workplace environment.
These agencies are committed to keeping workers safe at all times. If an organization fails to comply with the rules, it could face the consequences of receiving a financial penalty or be faced with having its license or certificate revoked.
However, different agencies have different procedures which must be followed to comply with federal regulations. Therefore, it is essential to check each group's specific rules and regulations to ensure that you follow them correctly and do not violate any laws.
Do these agencies under DOT offer any assistance to workers who face a substance use disorder?
Yes, some of these agencies offer assistance for workers trying to overcome their substance use disorders. For example, the DOT Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers resources for workers struggling with addiction. They also provide information about contacting treatment centers if an individual is interested.