Why Reasonable Suspicion Training For Managers Is So Important

Why Reasonable Suspicion Training For Managers Is So Important

One of the most difficult things about reasonable suspicion testing for supervisors is the fear of being wrong when “accusing” an employee of using drugs or alcohol, but the profound impact on safety, well-being and productivity may outweigh those fears.

With the continued rise of the opioid epidemic amplified with the pandemic, marijuana legalization across the nation, and changes to DOT testing regulations, managers need to refresh themselves on the requirements and the importance of reasonable suspicion to keep the workplace safe.

Supervisors often fear being sued or having a labor grievance action brought against them because of their decision to conduct a reasonable suspicion test.

These fears can be minimized if supervisors remember that requiring an employee to submit to a reasonable suspicion test is not an accusation of drug or alcohol use, nor is it an attempt to diagnose substance abuse or addiction. Rather, it is a method for “ruling out” a possible cause or explanation for employee behavior or appearance that is cause for concern.

 

Federal (DOT) Regulations Around Reasonable Suspicion

Reasonable Suspicion Training is for supervisors and managers of any employee covered by company’s drug and alcohol policy, human resource managers or DERs, upper management, or anyone else 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 need this training. If the husband and wife both drive, they would both need the training as they are supervising while the other drives.

Even if the reasonable suspicion test cannot be conducted, the employer is still required to remove any employee from safety-sensitive duties whose behavior or appearance is indicative of being under the influence of or impaired by alcohol or drugs.

 

What is Reasonable Suspicion?

Reasonable suspicion is described as a set of circumstances that give you reason to conduct a “fitness for duty” assessment of an employee based on objective observations.

The suspicion is based on observations of the individual employee. It is not a generalized belief or “gut feeling” about a group or category of employees based on such characteristics as dress, ethnicity, age, or occupation. A reasonable suspicion is more than a hunch; it is a rational conclusion drawn from objective observations of the individual over a period of time.

Many people can confuse reasonable suspicion and probable cause, and there is a difference between the two. Probable cause generally implies that there is evidence to support a probable conclusion—e.g., drug or alcohol use. Reasonable suspicion leaves room for an action to “rule out” or eliminate a particular cause for the observed phenomenon. In other words, the reasonable suspicion test is used as much to determine that alcohol or drugs are not the cause of the observed behavior or appearance, as it is to prove that alcohol or drugs is the causative agent.

The supervisor’s role is to:

  • identify the specific observations of employee behavior or appearance that justify a reasonable suspicion test,
  • confront the employee concerning the requirement to undergo reasonable suspicion testing, and
  • fully explain the consequences of the employee’s refusal to comply.

Reasonable suspicion testing 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 Reasonable Suspicion Training is to protect public and workplace safety by ensuring the removal of employees from safety sensitive duties when their behavior and appearance indicate possible illegal drug use or alcohol misuse.

Basically, it gives a company eyes and ears throughout the workforce, with supervisors acting as the frontline defense for workplace safety.

The supervisor’s responsibility is to be alert to changes in the employee’s behavior and/or appearance, not to a specific set of symptoms associated with each drug or drug class.

Deciding that a reasonable suspicion test is necessary involves the supervisor’s specific interaction with the employee and should always be made based on current information. In the absence of current signs and symptoms, a reasonable suspicion drug test would generally not be merited on a past incident.

 

DOT Training and Safety Meetings

To teach you what the regulations say about how to handle reasonable suspicion, the process and documentation required, and tips to make sure you stay in compliance with those rules, our DOT trainers offer a variety of in-person, or online training courses for the specific needs or weaknesses of your company, including Reasonable Suspicion Training for managers.

Fleet management and driver training education is a very valuable resource to ensure a healthy fleet and compliant safety practices.

Our trainers can tailor training to your specific operation.


Interested in Training?


DOT Virtual SAP Assessments and Delayed Collector Requalification through June 2021

DOT Virtual SAP Assessment

SAPs are allowed, if they voluntarily choose to do so, to conduct a remote “face-to-face” evaluation and assessment while this policy is in effect during the pandemic.

At the beginning of the COVID pandemic, the Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC) provided guidance about the impact of the COVID-19 public health emergency on DOT drug and alcohol testing requirements for employers, employees, and service agents (collectors, MROs, SAPs). 

On April 4, 2020, ODAPC provided supplemental information specific to performing remote evaluations by Substance Abuse Professionals (SAP) and the re-qualification timelines for collectors, Medical Review Officers (MRO), Screening Test Technicians (STT) and Breath Alcohol Technicians (BAT), and SAPs.  

As of December 09, 2020, this statement is now effective through June 30, 2021.

Virtual SAP Assessments and Evaluations Allowed During Pandemic

Under federal regulations, the SAP must conduct a face-to-face, or in-person, assessment and evaluation of an employee who has violated DOT drug and alcohol regulations. 

ODAPC recognizes that conducting face-to-face assessments and evaluations during the pandemic may not be possible for certain individuals.

SAPs are allowed, if they voluntarily choose to do so, to conduct a remote “face-to-face” evaluation and assessment while this policy is in effect during the pandemic.

ODAPC recommends that, when a SAP conducts assessments and evaluations remotely, the format of the assessment be documented in the final report for reference.

ODAPC realizes that performing evaluations remotely may not provide as much information to the SAP as a face-to-face evaluation would, but believes remote evaluations are preferable to not performing the evaluations at all. 

SAPs who choose to conduct initial assessments and evaluations and follow up evaluations remotely should consider the following parameters:

  • The technology used should permit a real-time two-way audio and visual communication and interaction between you and the employee.
  • You should determine if the quality of the technology (e.g., speed of the internet connection, clarity of the display, application being used, etc.) is sufficient for you to gather all the visual (e.g., non-verbal physical cues) and audible information you would normally observe in an in-person face-to-face interaction.
  • You may only utilize the technology if your State-issued license authorizes you to do so and within the parameters of that authority.

Delayed Collector and Other Service Agents Requalification Is Allowed

Under federal regulations, collectors, MROs, STT/BATs, and SAPs are required to maintain their DOT required qualifications by completing refresher training courses to continue acting as service agents in the DOT drug and alcohol testing program. 

  • Collectors and STT/BATs must complete refresher training every five years
  • MROs must complete requalification training every five years, and
  • SAPs must complete 12 professional development hours every three years

DOT realizes that during the pandemic, these service agents may find it difficult to find the necessary resources (e.g., exam location or personnel to conduct mock collections, etc.) to meet their re-qualification requirements.

If a service agent is unable to meet their re-qualification due date while this statement of enforcement discretion is in effect, DOT will not consider it a non-compliance for purposes of starting a public interest exclusion proceeding against the service agent. 

DOT will consider these service agents qualified per Part 40 to continue providing the Part 40 required services while this policy is in effect.


DOT Training

All fleets need to conduct proper and thorough pre and post trip inspections, which consists of implementing quality:

  • driver training that is ongoing and consistent
  • driver education, and
  • driver awareness of current and changing traffic laws

All of this will help prevent being targeted by the DOT at roadside inspections and is a valuable resource to ensure a healthy fleet, and compliant safety practices.

Our DOT trainers offer a variety of in-person or online training courses tailored to the specific needs or weaknesses of your company.


Interested in Training?

COVID-19 Pandemic Increases Positive Drug Tests and On-Site Testing


Since the emergence of COVID-19, the importance of drug and alcohol testing and driver physicals have not changed, especially considering positive drug testing rates have increased in April and May since 2019.

According to Clinical Reference Laboratories (CRL), positive drug test rates are up by more than 16% in April and 24.1% in May year-over-year. The culprit during the pandemic is marijuana, which increased 21% in April and 37.8% in May compared to the previous year. 

Similarly, DISA’s random positive drug testing rates have more than doubled, up from 0.18% in April 2019 to 0.37% in May 2020.

Employers, more now than ever, are taking employee health more seriously and attempting to make the required drug tests and driver physicals more convenient as they do not want to put workers at risk if health clinics are being used to test people who have COVID-19 symptoms.

With the hyper-focus of clean and safe facilities, minimizing hospital sites, and navigating collection sites or medical offices closing, many fleets are turning to on-site mobile drug testing.

This allows fleets to manage when drivers can be drug tested or receive required physical exams, trust their COVID health protocols, and not worry about busy testing and physical exam sites.

Trusted mobile collection sites are maintaining effective drug-testing procedures during the pandemic while increasing their on-site safety guidelines, which includes:

  • Stopping any testing if an illness is evident and advising the customer
  • Staff wearing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment during test sessions
  • Cleaning instruments and testing area after every test
  • Maintaining a minimum safe distance wherever practical, and
  • Treating the Donor with courtesy and respect at all times

On-site testing not only  employee safety during the pandemic, recent studies have shown that on-site and mobile collection testing has a higher rate of positives than clinic based testing.

This is most likely due to the element of surprise, where drivers may normally be able to purchase products in hopes of cheating their drug test or less opportunities for subversion of the testing process.

Check out our industry library resources of 15 videos, 2 ebooks, industry links, and CNS In The News content.

Can drivers refuse a drug test claiming COVID-19 pandemic concerns?

If your employees express concern about reporting for a drug test, on-site testing can assure them that employer guidelines are in place to protect them during drug testing and physical procedures.

It is important to note, if an employee refuses a drug test for any reason (including COVID-19 concerns), it is reported as a refusal to test.

This means collectors document the refusal and follow the company’s guidelines as outlined in its refusal to test policy.

If the company is regulated by the DOT, refusals are reported to the MRO (Medical Review Officer), reviewed, and a decision is made on whether or not it is a refusal to test based on the circumstances.

No matter the outcome, the driver will not be allowed to perform safety-sensitive functions, such as driving, during this process.


Mobile Drug and Alcohol Services

Want to save time and money?

If your company is committed to creating and maintaining a drug-free workplace with little to no interruptions in your operations, on-site collection may be the right option for you.

Our medical professionals are available to go on-site and perform drug and alcohol tests.

On-site drug and alcohol testing can be scheduled at your place of business or any other location of your choosing.

We are extremely flexible and can accommodate the busiest of schedules and various types of operations.

Our Certified DOT Examiners, Certified Collectors and Breath Alcohol Technicians (BAT) are readily available to serve you.

How does Mobile Drug Testing work?

  1. Schedule an on-site testing appointment for your company.
  2. We send appointment confirmation and a letter to all of your employees letting them know what to bring to the exam (upon request).
  3. Our professional staff will arrive 10 minutes early to set up.
  4. Our certified staff will provide collection services in an efficient manner.
  5. CNS will send samples to the certified lab. (24-48 turnaround time for DOT 5 Panel)
  6. Results upload by the Medical Review Officer (MRO) to your portal.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

Speed up DOT drug test results from collection site to labs

DOT drug test results

Need faster DOT drug test results?

With trucking’s high driver turnover and competitive job market, fleets risk losing top candidates if their hiring process is not efficient.

When an employer sends a potential hire to a collection site for a DOT drug test, the company hopes to receive the results quickly in order to get the new-hire through the hiring process as quickly as possible.

In an attempt to speed up the new-hire process, it is important for fleets to understand how drug test results can be delayed before finding solutions to get results faster.

The DOT drug testing process can be split into three areas: collection sites, labs, and—if a positive test result—the MRO, all of which can cause preventable delays in the entire process.

What are some causes of delays in drug test results?

Delays at collection sites

Delays caused at collection sites are usually caused by a simple collector mistake. For example, each sample should have the donor’s and the collector’s signature on the vial, and the collector may have forgotten. Also, the required forms may not have been filed at the collection site to have the errors fixed before lab testing of the samples can begin.

Beyond these simple collector errors, many smaller or remote collection sites do not send the urine samples to the labs on a daily basis. They may only have a courier come every two or three days before being shipped to labs for testing.

Also, many collection sites may not have a male or female collector available for an observed collection, forcing the donor to wait for that staff member to come in or being advised to find another collection site with proper staffing.

These delays could easily be avoided by working with a best-in-class collection site who use trained collectors, or using a drug and alcohol consortium who verifies quality collection sites in their network and, if a mistake is made, they continually follow-up on the status of the results. 

Delays at the lab

Once the donor provides a sample, it is quickly sent to a drug testing lab for testing. Labs receive thousands of these specimens daily and each one must have their chain of custody form reviewed for accuracy.

Many of the flaws are correctable and an affidavit or memorandum is sent to the collector to be corrected and sent back. Once a completed chain of custody form or required signatures are received for the specimen sample, the specimen then goes through an initial base screen test.

If the drug test results is negative, no further testing is needed and the employer is quickly notified of the negative result. Negative results are often received within 24-48 hours.

If a non-negative result is found in the initial base screen test, the sample goes through a Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry (GCMS) test process that includes breaking down the urine sample.

A delay in results from the lab can happen if the GCMS test does not affirm a negative or positive result. If this is the case, the specimen goes through another GCMS test process until an affirmative negative, positive, negative-dilute or positive-dilute result is given.

According to most labs, each round of GCMS testing is a batch of other specimens and each batch only gets ran once per 24 hours. If this happens, the delay of this donor’s drug test is unavoidable.

If a positive test is affirmed, the results are sent to a Medical Review Process (MRO). The MRO review process can take over a week to complete as the MRO attempts to reach the donor, has an initial interview with the donor, and, if the donor claims a prescription could have caused a false-positive, the MRO follows a procedure to verify the prescription.

Speed up the hiring process with fast DOT drug test results

Compliance Navigation Specialists ensure that the hiring process runs as efficiently as possible in order to speed up the pre-employment process. Not only do we help with your consortium, collection site and MRO services, we take it one step further.

Our Proactive Safety Management (PSM) program is the most comprehensive service we offer, covering all of your needs to manage your business, including driver qualification files, consortium management, ELD management, vehicle maintenance and more.

Many companies are finding it increasingly hard to maintain proper systems to make sure they are staying compliant throughout the year. We are your best solution, to support or act as, your safety department for a fraction of what it costs to hire a DOT Safety Director.

We pride ourselves in being flexible for our clients and working with all types of carriers from busy owner operators to larger fleets. CNS will be a valuable asset by keeping your company safe, compliant, aware of regulatory changes, proactive in all phases of potential risks, as well as profitable.

Learn more of what is included in our complete PSM program

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

DOT Rules on CBD Usage and Truck Drivers

CBD usage

Can truckers use CBD oils?

The use of cannabidiol (CBD) and related products has trended in recent years. It’s common now to see many products labeled with CBD as an ingredient.

However, it’s important to remain aware of FDA regulations concerning CBD, and the DOT stance on the use of CBD for drivers.

Is CBD considered marijuana or not?

The classification of a product as marijuana depends on the concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the product. Anything containing more than 0.3% THC is classified as marijuana.

Cannabidiol (CBD) products do contain levels of THC, sometimes above or below the marijuana classification levels.

DOT drug testing: Required for marijuana, not CBD

The DOT requires drivers to test for marijuana, but not for CBD. However, the labeling of CBD products can be misleading. If the product contains a higher than 0.3% cannabidiol concentration, it would fall into the category of marijuana.

Drivers taking a marijuana drug test after using a CBD product with higher levels of THC would end up testing positive for marijuana.

>>> What to know about a DOT drug test <<<

CBD usage and labeling confusions

Because the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) doesn’t certify levels of THC in CBD products, there’s very little way to tell if the labels are accurate. A person could end up unknowingly using a product that falls into the marijuana classification.

The FDA reminds the public that “it is currently illegal to market CBD by adding it to a food or labeling it as a dietary supplement.” Many companies have received FDA warning because their products exceed the CBD levels listed on their label.

Check out our industry library resources of 15 videos, 2 ebooks, industry links, and CNS In The News content.

Therefore, it’s entirely possible that CBD product you’re using COULD in fact, be classified as a marijuana product.

This creates a dangerous situation for people who require drug testing, including safety-sensitive drivers.

DOT, Marijuana and Cannabidiol (CBD)

Because the DOT does not allow the use of marijuana for any reason, drivers who use a CBD product could unintentionally run afoul of DOT regulations.

If a driver tests positive for marijuana, but was only using a CBD product, this claim will not be allowable. Laboratory-confirmed marijuana positive results will stand regardless of the drivers claim of CBD product usage.

Avoiding CBD usage is the best precaution

Drivers risk getting a marijuana positive test from the use of CBD products. Since employees subject to the DOT drug testing regulations are forbidden from using marijuana, great care must be taken with CBD products. Exercise caution about using CBD products. Because the labeling is often inaccurate, there are many unknowns about the actual levels of CBD in the products.

Remember positive drug tests remain on your record for three years. A positive test can require additional driver retraining and fines. A driver’s employment and income could be put in danger.

Why run the risk of having a positive drug test on your driving record? Avoiding the use of CBD products keeps your record clean, and keeps you worry-free when taking mandatory drug tests.


Drug and Alcohol Services

We offer a number of services related to drug and alcohol requirements

If you have any concerns regarding CBD usage or any other questionable prescription medications, we can answer any questions you have.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

DOT drug test: Who, what, when and how


As directed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT), all CDL drivers and their employers are required to follow the rules related to DOT drug tests.

Who is given a DOT drug test?

Drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) are required to take a drug test and their employers must ensure their drivers are tested before operating a CMV.

Below is a full list of those required to be tested.

  • employers of CDL drivers operating CMVs on public roads
  • CDL drivers who operate CMVs on public roads
  • interstate motor carriers
  • intrastate motor carriers
  • federal, state, and local governments
  • civic organizations (disabled veteran transport, boy/girl scouts, etc.)
  • faith-based organizations

What substances are tested?

The DOT requires testing of alcohol and five drug classes, including:

  1. Marijuana
  2. Cocaine
  3. Opiates
  4. Amphetamines or methamphetamines
  5. PCP

Alcohol tests will identify alcohol in the system at .02 BAC and more.                      

Motor carriers can also implement a separate testing program in addition to, and distinct from, the required DOT testing program, under which they are able to test for other drugs.

What types of DOT drug tests are there and when are they given?

DOT drug and alcohol tests are given in several different scenarios, including:

  1. pre-employment – before starting work as a CDL driver and operating a CMV
  2. post-accident – drug and alcohol tests may be required after an accident depending on the circumstances. Learn when post-accident drug tests are required.
  3. random – random testing programs are required by law for all DOT-regulated motor carriers
  4. reasonable suspicion – if a driver appears to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, an area in which supervisors must be trained in identifying.
  5. return-to-duty – required of drivers who tested positive, refused, or violated the law
  6. follow-up – required of drivers who tested positive, refused, or violated the law

>>> DOT Random Drug Testing Percentage Increase <<<

What is the DOT drug testing process?

The DOT has a strict process for administering drug tests and the steps are the same for all six types.

  1. Go to the collection site with a valid ID and provide a sample before leaving.
  2. Provide your urine sample in the designated collection area. The collection process will be private unless required, as in a return-to-duty or follow-up test.
  3. When finished with the sample, provide the container to the collector and observe as they split the sample into two containers, seal them with tamper-evident tape and allow you to sign the tape before you leave.
  4. Provide your contact information and verify your name and date of birth so the Medical Review Officer (MRO) can get in touch with the results.

Drug and alcohol testing

Where does a driver get a DOT drug test?

Compliance Navigation Specialists works with Quest Diagnostics and have over 10,000 locations available for testing, whether it is necessary after an accident or for a pre-employment screening.

We also offer a comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Consortium Administration Services (C/TPA) for companies that are regulated by Federal and State government.

If you have any questions, call 888.260.9448 or email at info@cnsprotects.com.

DOT post-accident drug test requirements


As a DOT-regulated motor carrier, it is extremely important to ensure all CDL drivers are in top physical and mental condition while operating these highly complex and powerful commercial motor vehicles. Driver awareness of post-accident drug test requirements is also crucial.

Although we do everything possible to prevent accidents, there are times when circumstances are beyond our control, making the post-accident steps one of the most important pieces of knowledge for a CDL driver. A driver’s responsibilities do not stop at the site of the accident.

What are the different types of DOT drug tests?

There are several situations in which a DOT drug test is required, including:

  1. pre-employment – before starting work as a CDL driver
  2. post-accident – applies to certain situations following an accident
  3. random – random testing program require by law for all DOT-regulated motor carriers
  4. reasonable suspicion – if a driver appears to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  5. return-to-duty – required of drivers who tested positive, refused, or violated the law
  6. follow-up – required of drivers who tested positive, refused, or violated the law

When is a post-accident drug and alcohol test required?

Drug and alcohol tests are not required after every accident. A CDL driver is required to take a post-accident drug test if:

  • the accident results in one or more fatalities
  • injury was incurred that required medical treatment away from the scene and the driver received a citation (Note: no citation = no drug and alcohol test)
  • any vehicle is towed, and the driver received a citation (Note: no citation = no drug and alcohol test)

Also, it is important to note that a driver is still liable to take a drug and alcohol test if a citation issued within 32 hours of the accident. If a citation is issued after the 8 hour mark, the motor carrier must make a note saying “a citation was not issued until this time, which was after the 8 hours for alcohol testing.”

How much time do I have to get a post-accident drug test?

A driver has 2 hours in which an alcohol test should be completed, however it must be completed within 8 hours. If the driver goes over the 2-hour mark, they must provide an explanation as to why there was a delay and the motor carrier must provide a written explanation and keep in their company files.

Check out our industry library resources of 15 videos, 2 ebooks, industry links, and CNS In The News content.

A drug test needs to be completed as soon as possible; however, it must be completed within 32 hours. At times there might be a delay in the issuance of a citation, however as long as the citation is issued with 32 hours, a drug and alcohol test is required.

Drivers often run into issues with meeting these timeframes because they will be kept at the scene of an accident for several hours or an investigation must be completed to determine if the driver was at fault.

What if I miss the maximum time frame allowed?

If a driver does not get his post-accident drug test before the maximum allowed time, the company needs to make a note in their files as to the reason why, however it is too late and the company will be out of compliance and face fines and audit penalties, so completing the drug test within the allowed time is imperative.

What about on-site tests, such as a DUI test or breathalyzer?

If an officer conducts a DUI test or a breathalyzer at the scene of an accident, a driver is still required to follow protocol and get an official drug and alcohol test within the allotted time frames. An on-site test by an officer will not fulfill the required DOT post-accident drug test as these tests do not follow DOT rules and regulations.


Drug and alcohol testing

Where does a driver get a DOT drug test?

Compliance Navigation Specialists works with Quest Diagnostics and have over 10,000 locations available for testing, whether it is necessary after an accident or for a pre-employment screening.

For post-accident alcohol testing, CNS will coordinate a location for you.

We also offer a comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Consortium Administration Services (C/TPA) for companies that are regulated by Federal and State government.

If you have any questions, call 888.260.9448 or email at info@cnsprotects.com.