Effective January 1, 2019, the minimum rate of random drug testing increased from 25% to 50% of covered employees for employers subject to the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) drug and alcohol regulations.  The alcohol rate remains unchanged at 10%.  This random drug testing change is due to an increase in the industry’s ‘‘positive rate,’’ as reflected in random drug test data for 2017.  According to FTA regulations, if there is an increase in positive test results to above 1 percent, the FTA is required to raise the random testing rate to 50%.  Once raised, the FTA can only lower the random testing rate back to 25% if the positivity rate stays below 1 percent for two consecutive years.

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) also increased the minimum random drug testing rate to 50% of covered crewmembers based on data for the most recent reporting year indicating that the positivity rate is greater than one percent.  Similar to the FTA, the USCG is required to set the minimum random drug testing rate at 50 percent when the positivity rate for drug use is greater than 1 percent.  These measures are in effect to establish an “effective deterrent to drug misuse within the maritime workforce” in order to promote maritime safety.

The increase in random drug testing rates is an additional consequence of the rise in drug use in the United States.  According to Barry Sample, PhD, Senior Director of Science and Technology at Quest Diagnostics: “Federal drug testing programs are designed to protect public safety in our country.  With the introduction of testing for a wider variety of prescription opiates in federal programs and as drug use in the U.S. workforce rises, random testing helps to discourage substance abuse among safety-sensitive transportation sector employees.”

Hire Image’s system will automatically default to the new rate for employers covered under FTA or USCG.  If you have any questions about whether you are covered or about the random drug testing change in general, please contact us at drugscreening@hireimage.com.

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