Issue 7 Winter 1998, Page 1
The annual random testing rates for drugs and alcohol are determined separately based on the industry-wide positive rate for the preceding two-consecutive year period, based on annual MIS reports submitted by covered employers. The positive rate is calculated by adding the number of positive random tests to the number of refusals of random tests and dividing by the total number of random tests attempted (completed plus refused).
The drug rule (49CFR Part 653) specifies that the drug random rate can only be lowered to 25 percent if the two-year consecutive industry-wide positive rate falls below one percent. Since the rate has exceeded this threshold (see article Page 2), the drug rate remains unchanged at 50 percent.
The alcohol rule (49CFR Part 654) specifies that the alcohol random rate can be lowered to 10 percent if the industry-wide violation rate is less than 0.5 percent for two consecutive years. Since the industry violation rate was determined to be 0.21 for 1996 and 0.24 for 1995, the random test rate for alcohol is established at ten percent for 1998.
These rates will be in place for calendar year 1998. Rates for all future years will be announced each year with the rates dependent on industry-wide experience rates (See Fall/Winter 1995, Page 6 of the Updates). Thus, alcohol rates may increase in future years if industry-wide positive rates exceed the established thresholds. Note: it only takes one year of greater than 0.5 to raise the alcohol random rate back to 25 percent.
Employers should also note that the random testing rates established by the rules should be considered the minimum required. An employer is allowed to exceed these rates. In this case, all tests administered should be reported in the annual MIS report submitted to FTA.
State DOT's must certify annually on behalf of their Section 5311 recipients (formerly Section 18) and rural recipients of Section 5309 funding. Since rural systems do not necessarily receive funding on an annual basis, FTA has clarified through the state management review process that states should require annual letters from each of its current subrecipients certifying compliance with the drug and alcohol testing regulations.
Page 2- Testing Results
The 1996 drug testing program revealed that the percent of positive random test results was 1.50 percent industry-wide in 1996 slightly down from the 1.73 rate reported in 1995. The positive rate for reasonable suspicion tests was 6.84 percent. Marijuana and cocaine were detected most frequently in the specimens that tested positive for drugs. Of the 3,691 positive specimens, 53.78 percent tested positive for marijuana and 38.66 percent tested positive for cocaine. There were 239 accidents reported that resulted in a positive post-accident drug test. One of these accidents resulted in a fatality.
The 1996 alcohol testing program revealed that industry-wide only 0.16 percent of the alcohol tests resulted in an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater. When test refusals are included the violation rate increases to 0.21 percent. These results are consistent with the random positive rate of 0.17 percent reported in 1995. The positive rate for reasonable suspicion tests was 8.22 percent. There were 16 accidents reported that resulted in a post-accident alcohol test result of 0.04 or greater. There were no fatalities resulting from these accidents.
Large operators, as a whole, indicated they had a positive random alcohol test rate of 0.19 percent, whereas small operators indicated they had a positive random alcohol test rate of 0.07 percent. However, small operators were positive for random drug tests more often than large operators (1.55% versus 1.48%).
In general, the industry-wide drug and alcohol testing results were consistent between the 1995 and 1996 reporting years. The random alcohol testing rate only varied by 0.01 percent between the two years and the random drug testing rate only varied by 0.23 percent between the two years. The statistics also indicate that there is little difference between system size, location, and employee category.
Even though two years of data is not sufficient to make any meaningful analysis, the data is encouraging , indicating that the testing programs are successfully deterring and detecting drug and alcohol use in the transit industry.
Page 3- Clarifications & Corrections
Only FTA forms can be used. Computerized replicas of the forms are acceptable as long as the forms are not altered. Blank forms can be found in the back of the regulations, Appendix I of the Implementation Guidelines, or by calling the FTA Office of Safety and Security at (202) 366-2896.
Direct recipients must file one drug MIS form and one alcohol MIS form for each employer including the transit agency, subrecipients, and safety-sensitive contractors. Each set of forms has a detailed set of instructions that must be strictly followed. All forms must be typed or completed in ink and all blanks must be filled in.
Each set of forms must have an original signature from an authorized representative of the employer on the front page. Direct recipients who do not directly operate service or have any safety-sensitive employees must provide one set of forms from each safety sensitive contractor and a transmittal letter that defines their relationship. Companies that provide service for a number of recipients must provide separate reports for the services provided to each recipient. It is the responsibility of the recipient to obtain these forms, check for accuracy, and then attach them to the recipientís submittal, if any, in their entirety.
If you have any questions regarding completion of the forms, you may contact the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center at (617) 494-6336 or their contractor for this effort, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), at (703) 810-8980. You may also submit questions via e-mail to JEAN.M.AULT@cpmx.saic.com or Redington@volpe3.dot.gov.
The regulation also specifies the obligations of the employer when an alcohol test results in a breath alcohol concentration of 0.02 or greater but less than 0.04. Even though a test result within this range is not considered a positive test or a violation of the regulation, the regulation (654.65(b)) does allow the employer to establish its own discipline. Those employers that choose to terminate an employee who tests at 0.02 or greater are not in violation of the regulation as long as employees are aware that the discipline is being promulgated under the authority of the employer and not the FTA.
Employers are cautioned not to define zero tolerance at breath alcohol concentrations below 0.02 as Evidential Breath Testing devices are only accurate at levels of 0.02 and above.
Page 4 - Resource materials
Urine Specimen Collection Procedures Guideline
Substance Abuse Professional Procedures Guidelines for Transportation Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Programs
USDOT, Office of Drug Enforcement and Program Compliance, (202) 366-3784
Bulletin Board Service FTA, Office of Safety & Security, (800) 231-2061 FTA World Wide Web home page: http://www.fta.dot.gov/
Note: The link to the FTA may be very slow or may not work at all at times.
Drug and Alcohol Consortia Manual
Drug and Alcohol Testing Results: 1995 Annual Report
Drug and Alcohol Testing Results: 1996 Annual Report
Random Drug Testing Manual
Substance Abuse in the Transit Industry
Identification of Drug Abuse and/or Alcohol Misuse in the Workplace: An Interactive Training Program
FTA, Office of Safety and Security, (202) 366-2896
USDOT Drug and Alcohol documents FAX on Demand 1 (800) 225-3784
This document was produced by the FTA Office of Safety and Security. If you have questions or comments regarding this information, please contact that office at 202-366-2896.
You may also contact Barb Savary, Technical Assistance and Compliance Manager, Public Transportation Office, Washington State Department of Transportation, 360-705-7926 or firstname.lastname@example.org