Workplace Drug Testing BLOG

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Post-accident drug testing is not a procedure employers like to perform. This method of drug testing only takes places within a specific timeframe following an accident or injury. Learn more about post-accident screening protocol to remain compliant within the workplace.

OSHA Post-Accident Drug Testing Regulations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for outlining the rights and restrictions of employers who demand post-accident drug testing, and employees who are asked to submit a sample.

The purpose of OSHA post-accident drug testing is to ensure companies implement reasonable safety precautions for workers in the event of industrial accidents, careless driving, electrical failure, and other hazardous conditions that can arise in a workplace.

What is post-accident drug testing?

Post-accident drug testing is only conducted after a worker is involved in a serious injury, accident, or fatality. This type of test is used to determine whether drugs and/or alcohol were the cause of a preventable incident in the workplace. In safety-sensitive industries, post-accident drug testing is a crucial protocol to keep compliant under DOT, OSHA, FAA, and other administrations.

What is a DOT reportable accident?

An accident must be reported and filed according to compliance laws issued by the Department of Transportation (DOT). A reportable incident must meet the following criteria:

  • The accident resulted in a fatality
  • The accident required worker(s) to obtain urgent medical attention
  • The accident resulted in at least one totaled vehicle

What is standard post-accident drug testing procedure?

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), post-accident drug testing must be performed within a certain timeframe after a DOT reportable incident occurs. Alcohol testing must be performed no later than 2 hours after an accident, while general drug testing should take place no later than 32 hours post-incident.

Who should undergo post-accident drug testing?

Post-accident drug testing can be adopted in almost any workplace environment. The following organizations are required to have a post-accident drug testing program in place at all times:

Federal Airline and Aviation Agency (FAA)
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
Federal Transportation Administration (FTA)
Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA)
United States Coast Guard (USCG)

Are there post-accident drug testing laws?

Post-accident drug testing must only be conducted in very specific circumstances. It is a violation of employee rights if a post-accident drug test is performed automatically, or as an intimidation tactic for workers. Blanket post-accident screening can prevent workers from reporting incidents, which could ultimately jeopardize workplace safety in the long-term.

What do employers use to perform DOT post-accident drug testing?

Urine drug testing is the most commonly used drug testing method following a reportable accident. However, instant breath alcohol tests and saliva drug tests can also be used to obtain presumptive results. If an employee is found to have drug metabolites in their system, results from the instant test should be confirmed by a certified laboratory Medical Review Officer.

Related Resources

OSHA - U.S. Department of Labor

California Department of Industrial Relations

USF Health Online OSHA Training