Happy New Year From CleanFleet!
**Did You Know? Breathalyzer tests detected alcohol in 16% of emergency room patients injured at work workplace
Top 10 Reasons to Update Workplace Drug & Alcohol Policies in 2016
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Kathryn J. Russo, Jackson Lewis P.C.
With the beginning of a new year, it is time to make resolutions and review old, outdated workplace policies. Employers who conduct drug and alcohol testing should consider updating their drug and alcohol policies in 2016, particularly if they have not done so in several years. Here are the top 10 reasons why:
- Medical Marijuana Is Here To Stay – while marijuana still is illegal under federal law, the federal government is slowly backing away from that position and more and more states are enacting medical marijuana laws.
- Educate Your Employees About the Dangers of Prescription Painkillers and Heroin. There has been a nationwide prescription painkiller epidemic for quite some time. Because these drugs are prescribed so freely by the medical profession, many people do not understand the dangers which include addiction and death.
- Consider Whether Your Drug Test Panel Is Effective. Do you still use the basic 5-panel, consisting of marijuana, amphetamines, cocaine, opiates and PCP? If yes, consider whether that panel really is effective, considering the prescription painkiller epidemic.
- If Testing For Prescription Drugs, Be Careful When Making Employment Decisions. Although employers may find it appropriate to expand their drug testing panels to include drugs such as prescription painkillers, they must ensure that they do not make adverse employment decisions based on erroneous ideas about those prescription drugs.
- Require “Safety-Sensitive” Employees to Report the Use of Prescription or Over-the-Counter Medications That Could Impact Safety. Employees in dangerous jobs should not report for work while using prescription or over-the-counter medications that could affect their ability to perform their jobs safely.
- Do You Have a Comprehensive Definition of “Refusal to Test”? Many workplace drug and alcohol testing policies are deficient because employers do not clearly define what constitutes a refusal to test.
To finish reading the full list, please click here.
Behaviors That May Lead To A Reasonable Suspicion Test
Reasonable suspicion drug testing determinations are sometimes the most challenging aspects of a drug-free workplace program, yet can have a profound impact on safety, well-being and productivity. So we wanted to ask, what are the common behaviors that may lead to a reasonable suspicion test?
For non-regulated testing, an employer has the ability to create their own definition of a reasonable suspicion test where federally-regulated employers must follow strict guidelines, like in the trucking industry. However, when it comes to non-regulated testing, the Department of Labor and the states where the employer does business may have input, so be sure to check all state laws before implementing the reasonable suspicion program in your policy.
An employer should plan for:
- how to make the determination regarding who and when to test,
- how to document the reasonable suspicion activity,
- and what actions will be taken.
Determinations should always be made based on currentinformation. In the absence of current signs and symptoms, a reasonable suspicion drug test would generally not be merited on a past incident. When evaluating signs and symptoms, we often hear the words ‘specific’, ‘contemporaneous’ and ‘articulable’ in reasonable suspicion drug testing determinations because these words indicate that the observer has a specific and current concern that can be described.
For example: John came to work today late. He clocked in and then fell asleep in the break room. When I woke him up, he was not startled to see me. He looked at me and went back to sleep. There was a strong odor of alcohol.
Common Signs to be Aware of:
To Read the Full Article, Click Here.
Trucking: Annual Random Drug Testing Rate Fell For 2016
Last month, the FMCSA announced that it is reducing the minimum percentage of annual random drug tests for commercial motor vehicle drivers from 50 percent to 25 percent.
According to the law in place, the FMCSA Administrator has the discretion to decrease the minimum annual random testing percentage rate based on the reported positive random test rate for the entire motor carrier industry. During 2011, 2012, and 2013, the positive rate for controlled substances random testing fell below the 1.0% threshold for 3 consecutive calendar years.
We are glad to see, that for most trucking companies, managers and drivers have taken seriously the obligation of safe operations in driving tractor-trailers weighing 80,000 lbs at highway speeds. Holding violations to less than 1% over 36 months is an outstanding demonstration of a commitment to excellence.
But what does the lowered rate mean for trucking companies?
While the new 25% rate is a minimum rate of testing allowed, it is not an invitation to slack off. To remain at that standard, the violation rate must remain below 1%.
There are doubts that this lowered rate will stay at 25%. One industry expert claims, “The random drug testing rate will go back up in 2 years based on the climbing numbers of positives in the county plus legalization of Marijuana.” In fact, according to Willamette Weekly, Oregon currently has 136 dispensaries selling recreational marijuana in Portland (compared to 34 liquor stores) and 311 dispensaries in the rest of Oregon (compared to 249 liquor stores). We expect these numbers to rise as many of the cities that banned recreational pot shops in Oregon will see ballot measures in 2016 hoping to reverse the bans.
Companies need to stay vigilant in order to keep their drivers and workforce safe. This may mean to continue your 50% random drug testing rate for the foreseeable future. As always, keep safety first.
Oregon Ban the Box Law | Criminal Background Checks
The Oregon Ban the Box law tightens up how an employer approaches Criminal Background Checks.
The law only allows criminal background checks to be performed AFTER a conditional offer of employment is made, the check has been determined to be a necessary requirement for the job or is standard practice with EVERY job offer. Under most circumstances, an employer can no longer ask about criminal history on a job application and thereby use that info to rule someone out before a job offer is made.
It should be noted that the FMCSR’s do not require a Criminal Background check so the law applies to Oregon carriers.
For companies that wish to use Criminal checks as part of their background check process, we encourage you to make sure you have a company policy outlining how you use these checks and seek advice from an attorney for specific questions.
For a sample policy, please reach out to our expert staff today at (503) 479-6082.
Success Story: How Reasonable Suspicion Training helped a Local Employer
A couple of months ago we had a Reasonable Suspicion Training class for employer supervisors and HR professionals. One of the companies attending the training had a reasonable suspicion policy in place but did not have actual training on reasonable suspicion signs, the symptoms to look for and how to document the situation. The company was regulated by the Department of Transportation, handling 40 to 50 drivers, and had to follow FMCSA rules. So the training was needed.
Luckily for the company, though unfortunate for those involved, a couple weeks later they had two drivers that had symptoms and signs that led to reasonable suspicion testing. They documented the event and sent them in for testing. The results came back positive for both drivers.
Without the training, the company could not comply with the FMCSA regulations under Reasonable Suspicion and the drivers may not have been sent in for testing. The company kept their workforce safe and the drivers were placed in a process that could give them the chance to stay clean and healthy for years to come.
If you have questions on policy or training, contact us today at(503) 479-6082.
** Did You Know? Last year our clients used 630 different collection sites & we processed over 215 2-liters of soda worth of Urine!
DOT Drug & Alcohol Testing Quiz
For DOT drivers and fleet managers, we created a Drug & Alcohol Testing Quiz. Take the quiz and see if you know your regulations or what your responsibilities are as a driver or business.