|Our comprehensive guide explains FRA post accident drug testing changes to keep railway workers on the job in 2023, including new regulations, frequently asked questions, and what to do if you fail a drug test. 💊|
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In the world of railway transportation, a minor lapse in judgement can lead to severe consequences.
This rings particularly true in Texas, where the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) maintains strict drug and alcohol testing regulations to ensure safety in the industry.
If you’re facing a FRA drug testing violation, you should search for a DOT qualified Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) using your zip code to find a SAP near you and learn more about the DOT SAP return-to-duty program for railway workers.
In 2021, the SAP return-to-duty program had a 96% success rate for FRA employees who completed the entire program.
While the DOT SAP return-to-duty program is available for all DOT employees, the rules and regulations for FRA random drug testing, particularly random testing rates and post-accident drug testing, varies from other Department of Transportation organizations.
|Year||Employee Category||Drug Testing Rate||Alcohol Testing Rate|
Because these rates represent minimums, railroads and railroad contractors may conduct FRA random testing at higher rates.
FRA Post Accident Drug Testing Rules for 2023
In 2023, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) continues to enforce stringent post-accident testing rules for employees.
The mandate dictates that all crew members of trains and on-track equipment involved in a major train accident or a qualified impact accident, passenger train accident, or fatal train incident must be tested.
The remains of any on-duty railroad employee or contractor who dies within 12 hours as a result of a qualifying accident or incident are required to undergo post-mortem testing.
FRA Post Accident Drug Testing Guidance and Definitions for 2023 ⬇️
|Type of Accident/Incident||Employees to Test|
|Major Train Accident||All crew members of all involved trains and on-track equipment|
|Impact Accident, Passenger Train Accident, or Fatal Train Incident||Employees are excluded from testing if the railroad representative can immediately determine, based on specific information, that the employee had no role in the cause(s) or severity of the accident/incident|
|Major Train Accident that also qualifies as the above||All crew members of all involved trains and on-track equipment|
|Other Regulated Service Employees||Any involved regulated service employees such as an operator, train dispatcher, roadway worker, or signal employee who may be directly and contemporaneously involved in the circumstances of the accident/incident|
Understanding FRA Drug Testing Program for Railway Workers
The FRA drug testing program is a comprehensive screening process that examines the presence of substances such as marijuana metabolites, cocaine metabolites, amphetamines, opiates, and phencyclidine (PCP).
Various types of drug tests are mandated under FRA regulations, including:
- Reasonable suspicion
- Follow-up testing
Each of these tests plays a distinct role in maintaining railway safety and is regulated by the rules outlined in 49 CFR Part 219.
In addition to urine testing for drugs, the FRA also requires blood specimens for its post-accident testing.
What Happens If I Fail a Drug Test?
The consequences of a failed drug test for a railway worker are serious, starting with immediate removal from safety-sensitive duties.
The FRA’s Part 219 compliance plan requires railroad employers to prevent and deter drug use and alcohol misuse in the industry.
If you violate the FRA drug testing policy, you’ll need to understand how to navigate FRA return-to-duty processes before you can return to work.
How Substance Abuse Counselors (SAP) Help Railway Workers
A SAP is DOT qualified and licensed counselor who provides critical services like assessment, treatment recommendation, follow-up evaluations, and compliance monitoring to ensure the railway worker is eligible to return to the job safely.
The first step is a comprehensive face-to-face assessment, which can be made in-person or virtually, to determine the extent of your substance use history and to develop a tailored treatment plan.
If you’re anxious about about what to expect in a substance abuse assessment, read our substance abuse evaluation guide explaining the entire assessment and evaluation process or call 817-781-7235 for a free phone consultation with a SAP counselor in Texas.
The 5 Steps in the DOT SAP Return-to-Duty Program
Navigating the path back to work after a FRA violation involves 5 steps:
- Initial SAP Evaluation: This initial stage is dedicated to assessing your substance use and crafting an individualized treatment plan.
- Compliance with the SAP’s Recommendations: Based on the initial assessment, this step may involve various actions such as education, treatment, follow-up testing, or aftercare.
- Follow-Up Evaluation: After completing the SAP’s recommendations, a follow-up evaluation assesses the effectiveness of the treatment and your readiness to return to safety-sensitive duties.
- Follow-Up Testing Plan: Upon a successful follow-up evaluation, the SAP will develop a testing plan for your employer. This plan may include at least 6 unannounced follow-up drug and/or alcohol tests in the first 12 months.
- Return-to-Duty: Following the SAP’s clearance and your employer’s decision, you can resume performing safety-sensitive functions. Please note that the length and cost of the SAP process can vary depending on the specific requirements of the treatment plan and the SAP’s professional fees, typically around $500.
Resources for Railway Workers Who Fail a Drug Test
There are additional resources available for railway workers:
- For an overview of FRA drug and alcohol testing regulations, you can refer to the Federal Railroad Administration’s Guide.
- For detailed railroad safety and drug testing rules, check out FRA Part 219 and 49 CFR Part 382.
- Some railroad companies offer employee assistance programs (EAPs), such as Union Pacific and BNSF, providing support for FRA employees facing personal difficulties, including drug and alcohol violations.
- Learn more about the Department of Transportation (DOT) CDB policy, recreational and medical marijuana policies, and FRA post accident testing policy.
Frequently Asked Questions 🙋♂️
What is the FRA pre employment drug test policy?
Under FRA regulations, a railroad has a one-time only Federal pre-employment drug test requirement for each of its covered service employees (regardless of whether the pre-employment test is for a new employee or for a first-time transfer to covered service).
Do the FRA rules for drug testing include a saliva drug test?
Yes, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the approval of oral fluid (mouth swab) drug testing, effective June 1, 2023. The FRA drug testing rules are outlined under 49 CFR Part 219.
What is the FRA drug test panel?
The FRA drug testing program screens for a panel of substances as defined by DOT regulations. This includes marijuana metabolites, cocaine metabolites, amphetamines (including methamphetamine, MDMA), opiates (including codeine, morphine, and 6-AM), and phencyclidine (PCP).
What happens if you fail an FRA drug test?
The employee will be immediately removed from safety-sensitive duties and cannot return to safety-sensitive functions until they’ve completed a return-to-duty process, which includes a DOT SAP evaluation, recommended treatment, a follow-up evaluation, and a negative result on a return-to-duty drug test.
What do pre employment drug test look for?
Pre-employment drug tests typically screen for commonly abused substances including marijuana, cocaine, opioids, amphetamines, and PCP. The specific substances tested can vary based on the employer’s policy and the nature of the job, but many companies use a standard 5-panel test for the aforementioned drugs.
Drinking night before pre employment drug test?
Per Title 49, an employer may choose, but is not required to, conduct pre-employment alcohol testing but must conduct the standard 5 panel drug test. If an employer chooses to conduct pre-employment alcohol testing, it must comply with DOT testing requirements.
Do they watch you pee for a pre employment drug test?
Yes, the collector will follow the DOT procedures for checking the employee for prosthetic or other devices designed to carry “clean” urine and urine substitutes and for watching the employee urinate directly into the collection container.
Can Delta 8 make you fail an FRA drug test?
Yes, Delta 8 THC can potentially make you fail a drug test. Delta 8 THC is a psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants, and it is chemically similar to Delta 9 THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana. While Delta 8 THC is legal in many states, most drug tests will not distinguish between Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC, leading to a positive result on a drug test.
Does tramadol show up on an FRA drug test?
Yes, tramadol can show up on a drug test specifically designed to detect opioids, such as an FRA (Forensic Toxicology Analysis) drug test, typically 1-4 days after last use.
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