COVID-19 has put a stop to so many different aspects of day to day life. The luxuries we once took for granted, such as getting haircuts and going to the gym, are no longer part of our daily routine. And while these inconveniences have been difficult to deal with, some industries face even more time-sensitive and impactful questions.
The coronavirus has caused massive interruptions for CMV employers who were just beginning to get used to the new FMCSA clearinghouse rule regarding drug and alcohol testing of employees. While a national emergency has been declared which extends flexibility to CMV employers regarding drug and alcohol testing of their drivers, that flexibility won’t last long. Here’s how CMV employers can, and should, respond to the interruptions of drug and alcohol testing capabilities.
On the FMCSA’s website, they are quite clear regarding what to do about delayed tests. The website states that, “If, due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 national emergency, you are unable to perform random selections and tests sufficient to meet the random testing rate for a given testing period in order to achieve the required 50% rate for drug testing, and 10% for alcohol testing, you should make up the tests by the end of the year. “
This means that while there is some flexibility regarding the delaying of tests to ensure safety, those delays are not indefinite. Testing is more than likely going to need to be conducted by year end, so be sure you are prepared for a spike in drug and alcohol testing once the COVID outbreak begins to settle down.
Testing employees before they begin to perform DOT safety sensitive functions has long been a staple of employee onboarding for CMV employers. But some have begun to question whether this required pre-employment testing would be waived as part of the national emergency declaration process.
The answer, which again comes directly from the FMCSA, is this: all CMV employers still must be tested before performing DOT safety sensitive functions. Therefore, if employees cannot be tested due to COVID-19, then those employees cannot perform those functions. While the need for truck drivers is higher than ever, the FMCSA and CMV employers still understand how important it is that the highways stay safe, so until testing can be completed, new highers cannot perform certain functions.
These truly are unprecedented times, and while the CDC and other health organizations are ensuring that guidelines are in place to keep us safe, challenges vary industry to industry. As a result of the variations in responsibilities for certain essential businesses, it's up to individuals to educate themselves and practice common sense prevention methods.
Truck drivers are keeping the country afloat in a tremendously difficult time, and so many of us owe so much to these CMV professionals. But truckers won’t be doing anyone any good if they contract and spread the virus. Ensure social distancing procedures are strictly enforced and followed, and that face masks are worn to limit the spread of the disease.
It’s a complicated issue being that COVID-19 presents a health and safety risk, but so too does not testing CMV drivers who will be driving massive vehicles across the country. For now, CMV employers should adhere to CDC guidelines, be prepared to begin testing once the virus slows, and use common sense. It is, for the time being, the best and only option.