Dusting Off Your Workplace Reasonable Suspicion Training
Okay, so your managers have taken the required Reasonable Suspicion Training (RST) years ago and have never thought about it since. Well, it is time to dust off the training.
With the rise of the opioid epidemic, changes to DOT testing regulations, and marijuana legalization across the nation, managers need to refresh themselves on the requirements and the importance of documentation in order to keep the workplace safe.
What is Reasonable Suspicion?
Reasonable suspicion is described as a set of circumstances that indicate a reason to conduct an assessment of an employee’s “fitness for duty” based on objective observations of the individual.
A reasonable suspicion test is used to determine that alcohol or drugs are not the cause of the observed behavior or appearance. Drug testing is a mechanism to determine if the employee has used a prohibited drug; regardless of when, or what amount.
The overall goal of RST is to protect public and workplace safety by ensuring that employees whose behavior and appearance indicate possible illegal drug use or alcohol misuse are removed from safety sensitive duties.
As with any drug testing program, RST is to help prevent workplace injuries and employee harm, decrease costs associated with injuries, employee turnover, insurance, productivity issues, and absenteeism, and protect workplace assets.
It, basically, gives a company the eyes and ears throughout the workforce with supervisors as the frontline defense for workplace safety.
Federal (DOT) Regulations around RST
The Best Standard if thinking about implementing RST in workplace…
Reasonable Suspicion Training is for supervisors and managers of any employee covered by company’s drug and alcohol policy, HR Managers or DERs, Senior Management, or anyone else who is responsible for safety within the company.
For the FMCSA, PHMSA, FTA:
- They must complete at least 2 hours of supervisor training—one hour on signs and symptoms associated with drug use and one hour on signs and symptom associated with alcohol misuse
- For owner operators, if the wife is doing your books and manages while you are on the road, she should have this training. If the husband and wife both drive, they both need the training as they are supervising while the other drives
For the FRA:
- Supervisors of Hours of Service employees complete at least 3 hours of training on drug and alcohol testing requirements, including reasonable suspicion test determinations
For the FAA:
- Must complete 2 hours of training, plus recurrent supervisor training at intervals specified in the aviation employer’s anti-drug and alcohol misuse prevention plan
Even if the reasonable suspicion test cannot be conducted, the employer must remove from safety-sensitive duties any employee whose behavior or appearance is indicative of being under the influence of or impaired by alcohol or drugs.
Importance of the Documentation Process
Even when the obvious tell-tale signs such as attendance problems, performance and behavioral issues, forgetfulness, minor accidents, and frequent mishaps are present, detecting and establishing drug and alcohol use can be difficult. Untrained employees are also reluctant to deal with delicate and potentially volatile situations.
The DOT rules require that determinations to conduct RST be based on specific “contemporaneous articulable observations” of employee conduct, behavior, appearance or body odors.
Contemporaneous = that the behavior, appearance or body odor exists now; when the supervisor is making the observation.
Articulable = that the observations are specific, grounded in objective criteria, and capable of being documented by verbal or written expression.
Encourage all employees to understand the symptoms of on-the-job drug or alcohol use among their coworkers.
Confronting a worker requires special training, its ripe with pitfalls and legal issues. Managers need to have, and in many cases, are required to have reasonable suspicion training.
Reasonable suspicion can be a tricky legal issue. Some companies, like the State of Nevada’s Drug and Alcohol Program, recommends to its managers that, whenever possible, they have another manager or supervisor confirm their suspicion before proceeding with a test. In order to avoid bias, the first supervisor doesn’t tell the second supervisor what they suspect, but simply states they’re are concerned about the employee’s job performance or behavior. Allow the second supervisor to observe the worker, draw their own conclusions and offer an opinion. If both supervisors agree, the basis for reasonable suspicion testing is even stronger.
What would you do? Workplace Scenario:
When you dash into the men’s room, you notice that someone is in one of the stalls. The individual mutters some curses under his breath, and then a small plastic baggie with white powder falls on the floor.
- What action would you take?
- What other information or observations do you need to make a decision about reasonable suspicion testing?
- What is your company policy concerning investigation of suspected possession of controlled substances?
CleanFleet’s Workforce Reasonable Suspicion Training
Protect your workforce, the workplace, the public, and your company with our Reasonable Suspicion Training.
Our Online Reasonable Suspicion Training is recommended for your company’s workforce leaders to determine if and/or when an employee may be impaired and then know the necessary steps to take to protect your company and the employee as it relates to specific company drug and alcohol policy compliance and safety.
The training will include the physical, behavioral, speech, and performance indicators of probable alcohol misuse and use of controlled substances.
This training is available for Online Video Training or Live Webinar Training. We also provide on-site classroom training by request for the Portland, Oregon metro area.
If you are interested, give us a call at 503-479-6082 or fill out the form below.
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