When working within the DOT regulatory space employers have numerous requirements as to what they must do with their drug and alcohol testing program. One of the DOT requirements is that employees must be randomly tested for drugs and/or alcohol (depending on the agency).
The DOT program includes numerous types of testing requirements including pre-employment, post-incident, site-access, follow-up and random testing. The random testing requirement means that employers must place all of the applicable employees (those in safety-sensitive positions) into a ‘random pool’. The random pool is basically a list (group) of all the employees who must be a part of the random testing requirement (those in safety-sensitive positions). Employees are put into the pool based on their job function not their title, so no matter what their job title is, if they perform safety-sensitive job duties, they have to be included in the random testing pool.
Each agency under the DOT’s purview has a specified ‘Random Testing Rate’ (you can see those here) and the employers must make sure that they are testing at least the percentage of employee’s yearly that are required by their agency. For example, the FMCSA’s (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) 2021 random testing rates were 50% for drug testing and 10% for alcohol testing. Only DOT employees are to be a part of the DOT random pool and testing, if you have a private company or non-DOT testing program, this must be kept separate from your DOT program and pool.
Employers/consortia/third party administrators who are managing employees regulated by more than on DOT agency are able to put them into one pool, but must make sure that if there are two different rates of testing for each agency, they are using the highest testing rate.
While the responsibility to determine test timing and testing processes falls on the Employer, processes must be put in place to ensure that the selection is random. The random sampling from a pool of employees may be managed by a service agent as per §40.347 and must be done using an industry-recognized computer software program to manage the pool of employees is mandatory.
A workplace drug test can be administered anytime just before, during, or right after an employee performs a safety-sensitive job function.