Remaining Compliant Through COVID-19
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued an Enforcement Notice, extending the waiver of random drug and alcohol testing for certain interstate transportation employers involved in the Coronavirus response through Feb.28, 2021. The notice, released on Dec. 15, is part of the agency’s first-ever national Emergency Declaration, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For 2021, random testing rates remain:
- 50 percent of their average number of drivers for drug testing and
- 10 percent for alcohol testing.
However, as a result of the pandemic many medical offices were closed and/ or backlogged due to previous closures and drivers, fearful of catching the virus, remain hesitant to go to a clinic for testing. The FMCSA provided relief to ensure that testing could still go on for those who could meet the requirements, and issued a waiver for those who could not.
FMCSA’s Expanded declaration
The national National Emergency Declaration, was designed in response to the pandemic, to ensure that critical supplies and consumer staples go where they are most needed, without disruption in the supply chain. It provides relief to carriers and drivers directly involved in the transportation of “essential cargo,” specifically:
- Livestock and livestock feed;
- Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 such as vaccines, supplies/kits for the administration of vaccines;
- Supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 including masks, gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants, etc.
- Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.
Document, Document, Document
There have been several modifications to the original Emergency Declaration, since it was first implemented last March. Tim Thoelecke, Jr, founder of InOut Labs, in his capacity as a full service C/TPA, received many calls regarding the FMCSA’s stance. He says there remains much confusion with what the FMCSA’s leniency is with regards to carriers’ and owner operators’ random drug and alcohol testing requirements.
“The FMCSA strongly recommends that motor carriers and owner-operators do everything in their power to maintain the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) minimal random drug and alcohol testing requirements,” explains Thoelecke.
“However, the agency may provide temporary leniency to those employers who provide written documentation citing specific reasons for non-compliance. For example, if testing was not completed due to a lack of available testing facilities, they must document efforts made to find “alternative testing sites or other testing resources.”
The written notice also states that trucking companies unable to conduct random drug and alcohol testing at reasonable intervals throughout the year must record the specific reasons why these requirements could not be met. The FMCSA also provided leeway regarding the timing of certain pre-employment drug tests, including tests that could be triggered by furloughs.
You can read the agency’s complete statement here.
InOut Labs encourages everyone to review the applicability, restrictions, and limitations which are included in the exemption online.
InOut Labs is a full-service C/TPA, providing complete turnkey compliance systems including comprehensive drug testing packages, random consortium pooling, supervisor & driver education, record keeping materials and more. Call us today at 833.723.7997.
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