3 Critical Times to Drug Test Railroad Contractors

In today’s world, railroads should be familiar with drug testing instances and regulations to help ensure safety and productivity. Operating heavy railroad machinery can produce tremendous consequences if used under the influence of drugs or alcohol. That’s why, it is imperative that railroads conduct drug testing on all employees and contractors. Below, our team has identified the three best times to drug test a railroad contractor.

1.     Onboarding Drug Testing

Drug users can be a detrimental addition to any workplace, especially in the railroad industry. Railroad contractors who engage in drug use can negatively impact job performance and can pose potential threats to workplace safety and employer liability. Identifying drug users before they are ever hired is crucial, and can save railroads time and money. Foregoing drug testing can produce dangerous effects for your company, such as excessive absenteeism, accidents and loss of production. Testing workers before they are contracted helps safeguard your business against these repercussions. In addition, employers who notify applicants about a pre-employment drug test can expect to attract a higher caliber of talent.

Different industries have preferred specimens (hair, saliva, blood) to collect for workplace drug testing. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) states that a urine test should be administered for onboard drug testing to detect the presence of marijuana, cocaine, opiates, phencyclidine and amphetamines. Urine tests are accurate, easy to collect and inexpensive.

2.     Random Drug Testing

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependencies reports that 70% of the 14.8 million Americans who use drugs are employed. Pre-employment drug testing is the first measure to make sure drug users are not hired, but it doesn’t guarantee contractors will remain drug free. Foregoing random drug testing leaves employers vulnerable to liabilities that can happen on the job, such as a work related accident, injury or even death. These consequences can cost employers a high financial stake and damage company reputation.

The FRA maintains that any worker operating on a railroad must be clear of drug use and requires onboarding and post-accident drug testing. Random drug testing is not required under federal law, but can still be used to verify that safety laws are being followed. Urine or breath tests are two effective methods for random drug testing.

3.     Post-Accident Drug Testing

It’s crucial railroad contractors are promptly drug tested after an accident. Post-accident drug testing protects employers against fraudulent worker compensation claims. The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires post-accident drug testing under these circumstances:

  • Major train accident
  • Emergency evacuation
  • Reportable injury
  • Railroad property damage

If a drug test is administered to a contractor after an accident and the test comes back positive, an employer will have a better case for denying worker’s compensation benefits. Under the FRA, railroad contractors who test positive for drug or alcohol after an accident can be denied benefits and face termination from his/her job. Post-accident drug testing includes breath, urine blood and tissue (if fatal accident).

The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that drug abusers are four times more likely to be involved in a workplace accident and five times more likely to request worker’s compensation benefits. Post-accident drug testing provides financial protection [G1] for employers and should always be administered if an accident occurs.

Drug Test Contractors Creates a Better Workplace

Creating a clear drug testing policy is a business investment that pays off. Drug testing protects employers against bad hires, prevents workplace accidents and keeps railroads in compliance with federal regulations. However, developing a policy isn’t always easy for employers to create without outside help. It’s recommended that a drug screening provider is utilized to ensure compliance and accuracy. eVerifile offers a railroad contractor screening program called eRailSafe that can mitigate your company’s workforce risks. If you would like to learn more about this screening program, contact eRailSafe today.