The BASICS of Drug & Alcohol Testing Compliance
Below is a full transcription of our popular webinar on complying with the Drug and Alcohol CSA BASIC, called “The BASICS of Drug & Alcohol Testing Compliance.”
Afternoon and good morning to those on the west coast. Thank you all very much for tuning in today. We are three months into the new year, so I really appreciate you all taking the time out of your busy schedule to attend this webinar. I’m going to give it a few more seconds here. Looks like a lot of folks still joining in. Okay, I’ll let these last folks in here and we’ll go ahead and just start. My name is Vinnie De Andrade. I’m a DOT compliance and Foley platform expert. Similar to many of you here on this webinar today, I at one point had to learn all the ins and outs of DOT compliance. As Steven, a colleague of mine here at Foley, would say: DOT compliance is a necessary evil, but not something we can’t all overcome together. And it’s important to have a good understanding on what it is and kind of how to execute it.
I think many of you will agree that DOT compliance is a rigorous aspect of your day-to-days. What we will discuss today is, in my opinion, one of the most important parts of staying compliant: the drug and alcohol testing basics and we’ll talk about your CSA score as well. We’ll touch on that later on the webinar. Now, for those that have been handling DOT compliance for your organization for a while, you may find that some of the things I cover are somewhat of a reminder to you. But I do encourage you to stick through with us all the way to the end. You might find one or two things to be new information. And those that are taking on a new role in your company to handle compliance, welcome. Don’t be afraid – drug and alcohol testing are requirements, but something that can be addressed with ease if you know what you’re doing. And of course, we’ll touch on the CSA score as I mentioned; that’s something you should definitely keep an eye on. So, let’s jump into some of the fundamentals here.
Who Must Comply?
Take a look there at the three bullet points on the screen. So, if you have drivers, or if you drive yourself and you can relate to one or more of those bullet points, then you 100% must abide by the drug and alcohol testing policies implemented by the FMCSA.
Two Key Regulatory Requirements
So, what are these policies? Well, the drug and alcohol program consists of two parts. We have the DOT drug and alcohol testing and the DOT Clearinghouse. The FMCSA, along with the department of transportation, requires that the driver is subject to commercial driver’s license requirements, and that their employers follow alcohol and drug testing rules. These rules include procedures for testing, a frequency of tests and substances tested for. So it’s not enough to, or rather it’s not compliant to simply schedule a test whenever you feel appropriate.
Let’s dig into that a bit further. What do we mean by procedures for testing? Well, the DOT uses urine collection for testing. So we’re not testing blood or hair. However, there are some talks in the industry of hair follicle testing in the near future, which might be something you should be concerned about, and a strong reason to come on board with a TPA like Foley carrier. Another procedure for testing on the alcohol side of things is the use of breath and saliva. So frequency – what about the frequency? Well, as mentioned, you can’t simply send a driver when you feel like it’s convenient. Each driver must be enrolled in a random pool. These random tests must use a truly random selection. That means that each employee must have an equal chance to be selected and tested. These are completed quarterly.
Now, a compliant program must also consist of the following: pre-employment tests as well as post-accident with a reasonable suspicion and a return to duty or follow-up drug tests. So again, folks, these are all requirements here. I’m not here to provide you suggestions on how you should do things. We’re all here today so we can be informed on how you must do things regarding the running of these tests. So, what is the DOT requiring you to test for? There’s a five-panel drug test, which includes marijuana, cocaine, opiates or opium, codeine, derivatives, amphetamines and methamphetamines, as well as PCP. Each of these tests, if failed, must be reported to the DOT Clearinghouse. If you’re not familiar with the Clearinghouse, please give us a call after this webinar and we’ll be more than happy to get you enrolled.
Two accounts need to be created in the Clearinghouse. We’ve got the employer’s account and the driver’s account. The Clearinghouse has been around for about two years. Essentially, it’s a database to hold any violations with drug or alcohol testing. So anytime you hire a new driver, you need to run a pre-employment full query on this driver, and then every year after that, you would run a limited query on these drivers. Essentially, a query is like a background check to make sure there are no violations for that driver.
How Compliance Impacts Your CSA Score
Your CSA score stands for compliance, safety, and accountability. Essentially, this is a grading system that the FMCSA uses to ensure that motor carriers are operating safely and compliantly. It is important to have a good score, so let’s break each one of the bullet points down quickly.
What is Your CSA Score?
Carriers’ SMS scores are primarily a function of the number, type and severity of a violation uncovered during roadside inspections or an audit. In an CSA intervention, there is a focus on specific safety problems, and it helps with improving behaviors that are linked to crash risk. That third bullet point there – safety fitness determination – shows three tiers: satisfactory, conditional and unsatisfactory. These are all possible outcomes. You want to be at a satisfactory level.
What Is the Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC?
The controlled substance or alcohol BASICS addresses the FMCSA’s requirements of a 49CFR Part 382 and Part 392. It aims to prevent the operation of commercial motor vehicles by drivers who are impaired by alcohol, illegal drugs, or misuse of prescription, or even over the counter medication. This takes us back to the importance of complying with that DOT drug and alcohol testing program. So what exactly do we mean by users’ percentile ranking to prioritize carriers, as you see there on that third bullet point? Well, the intervention threshold is 80% for general carriers, it’s 65% for passenger carriers, and you’re at a 75% if you are a hazmat carrier. Take a look at your own operations to see kind of where you fit in there.
How Is Data Collected?
We keep talking about data – data, reporting scores, all that good stuff, so essentially, this data is being collected. So, how is it being collected? Roadside inspections: we’ve got crash reports from the previous two years and even data from offsite and onsite audits. We’ll touch a little bit on what these offsite audits are in just a second.
How Is the Score Data Used?
The score data is not being reported in vain, or so that data will be used against you. Take a look at that alert symbol there on the screen. That is what will pop up next to your specific basic that is subjected to an intervention. A critical violation will automatically give you one of these sorts of symbols. An example of a critical violation is not keeping DQ files for your drivers. By the way, one thing I wanted to mention is that not only will having a bad score alert the FMCSA, but it can also prevent you from gaining new clients or even finding quality drivers for your companies; a driver may be a bit hesitant to come on board with a company that they may feel might be at risk of being put out of service by the FMCSA.
Most Severe BASIC Violations
Here are a few examples of some of these severe basic violations. I also want to remind you all that we have a Q and A here at the end of this webinar, so stick around so I can get some of those questions answered.
Top Violation of 2022 (so far)
Here are some more violations that have resulted in immediate prioritization. So please folks, if you feel like you fall under any of these categories in the bullet points, make sure you call us here at Foley right away so we can avoid any future headaches for your company.
A solid safety and compliance program will help you maintain your CSA score and it’ll ensure your audit ready.
The Importance of Recordkeeping
Recordkeeping is a vital part of avoiding violations. Here’s a little fun fact by the way: the majority of DOTs result from improper recordkeeping.
FMCSA Recordkeeping Basics
For those that have not experienced an offsite audit yet; you only have about 48 hours to get those records or documents sent over, so it’s important that you’re set up in a way that allows you to do this. That bullet point in the middle there bring me back to what I had mentioned before at the beginning of this webinar about not being able to schedule a drug test whenever you feel like it’s convenient. You can’t just stuff your documents into a cabinet. It’s not efficient and you’ll face some violations for doing so.
Record Retention Rules
Now, let’s break some of these recordkeeping rules down even further. For one, you need to keep your records digitally. Again, that goes back to the offsite audit that I just mentioned. If you’ve previously been audited where the DOT officer came into your place of business and kind of shuffled through that paperwork, imagine that being done completely digitally over the phone and over email. With these offsite audits, you only have 48 hours’ turnaround time. So, make sure you have your process digital and in an efficient way to get these documents over. An important bullet point I want to point out is that once a legible copy exists of these documents, the original, it doesn’t need to be retained.
Retention Requirements: DOT Drug & Alcohol Testing
Here’s a few examples of what we mean by retention. If you look there on the right-hand side, you’ll see, for example, a service provider contract; this needs to be retained for five years. Let’s see if we can get this presentation sent over to you in case I’m moving too quickly.
Retention Requirements: DOT Clearinghouse
I did also want to clear up some retention keeping for the Clearinghouse since it is relatively a newer program. For the Clearinghouse, you must retain those limited consent forms that you need for three years. You can see the remainder of those are also three years – pre-employment, as I mentioned, and those annual queries. So again, that pre-employment query is a full query you would run on a new hire, and then the annual queries are a limited query.
The Impact of a High BASIC: A Push for Safety
The FMCSA is continuously looking to have safe drivers on the road. It’s just better overall for the country in general, right? We want to have a safe environment to go outside in, we want safe drivers on the road, and we want things to run smoothly. The goal is really to take some unfit drivers off of the road; that’s why these compliances are being put into place, and that’s why they’re being enforced so heavily.
Another Surprise Blitz?
Speaking on enforcing these sorts of compliances, we had a surprise blitz back in 2020, and there’s a lot of talk of these surprise blitzes or unannounced enforcement events being held about every two to three years. We’re in 2022 now and we wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an entire new seven-week unannounced enforcement event. So, you want to make sure that you’re being proactive, and that you’re not being reactive.
One thing about this unannounced enforcement audit is that one in three carriers audited during the blitz were given a safety rating downgrade. That’s a huge, huge percentage. Definitely take a look at how you’re doing things and just make sure you don’t get that downgrade if you were to be subject to one of those unannounced safety audits.
Why Safety Ratings Matter
Safety ratings do matter, of course. Anything below a satisfactory rating can spell big trouble for a motor carrier. This goes back to getting new clients as well as drivers; and of course, just having the eyes of the DOT looking at you and really breathing down your neck, essentially to make sure that you’re doing things accordingly. You want to be able to run your business. You don’t want to have to worry about the DOT or FMCSA. Another way that the FMCSA looks at some sorts of violations is that if you did the crime, you got to do the time. So, you want to make sure you don’t get any sorts of violations, because essentially you want to have a zero score. If your scores go up because of a violation, then it’s going to stick with you for a little while, while you show them that you’re doing things properly.
If you come on board with a TPA like Foley, I would highly suggest reaching out to your insurance providers right away. A lot of times, you can get better premiums there with them. Your CSA score is another thing that is also used to calculate insurance, so that’s another important aspect and another reason why you really need to care about your scores. Additionally, aside from difficulty getting new drivers or clients, shippers and brokers, as I mentioned, they might be hesitant to work with carriers that have high scores, so we want to make sure we’re doing things accordingly.
The Advantages of Automation: Automate Your Compliance
Again, going back to being proactive rather than reactive. This is one of the advantages of automation, so you want to automate your compliance. Once you automate your system, it leaves less room for error, and it makes compliance programs easier to maintain. DOT drug and alcohol testing programs are managed automatically along with the DOT Clearinghouse requirements. This is what Foley can take off of your shoulders. Once we automate your setup, it’s a set and forget type of ordeal. You can sit back and just leave it up to us: we will keep you compliant. And actually, a little fun fact here – nobody has failed an audit while being on board with Foley.
Now, if you look on that bullet point there in the middle, you’ll see that employers receive alerts and notifications when a due date is approaching, and this is very important: CDLs, med cards, MVRs are due at a certain point. A lot of these things have recurring dates, so once you set up those alerts and those notifications, it makes your life a whole lot easier. You don’t have to, as I’ve seen in the past with some previous customers here at Foley, have a manual process checking these dates. One company I spoke with had a process where, every first of the month, they would go in and shuffle through their paperwork. Once they came on board with us and we automated everything for them, they were really able to save that whole first of the month process which went towards other aspects of growing their business, finding drivers, finding new clients and all that good stuff, so none of that paperwork shuffling.
Managing Additional Recordkeeping Requirements
The Clearinghouse: another thing that was thrown at us here about two years ago. I wouldn’t be surprised if, a year or two from now, there will be like a Clearinghouse #2. We can also handle this for you as well. This will go along with the driver qualification files. So, there’s necessary recordkeeping and requirements that need to be maintained – DQ files. An online compliance management system will ensure all records are secure and readily available. Again, going back to that 48-hour turnaround time – you need to be ready for an offsite audit. If things are being done remotely, or maybe you have a hybrid situation and now you’re facing an audit and you’re working remotely, you need to be able to access your DQ files no matter where you are. Something that we provide here at Foley is a platform. As long as you have internet access, you can access these files of yours anywhere in the world.
Digital DOT Compliance
It’s 2022 now, and we want to make sure we’re digital just to keep up with certain things. There are many ways of doing things and we want to do it as efficiently as possible. Having a DOT or a digital compliance set up is going to really streamline your process. Compliance programs are managed securely within our Foley portal, so drug and alcohol testing, driver qualification file management, etc. – you’ll be compliant,. Going back to those alert notifications that I mentioned – MVR monitoring is a great one. So, to touch on MVR monitoring. You might have a driver who has a part-time job with another company on the weekends. Now, if he gets some sort of violation over there, you may not know about that until you run that other annual MVR. So, if you’re consistently monitoring your drivers, that program MVR monitoring is what will help you to avoid keeping a bad driver on the road. With Clearinghouse program management, again, we’ll take that off your shoulders. It’s a tedious thing and something we can handle with ease.
Automated Compliance Management
Automation, automation, automation, right? The compliance management will be automated; so it’s ongoing compliance through comprehensive alerts and notification systems. Not only will you, but your driver, will be alerted when CDL’s renewal dates are coming up, or there’s an expiration date, and we start at the 60th-day mark. We’ll shoot you an alert and we’ll let you know: “Hey, your driver John Doe’s CDL license will expire in 60 days, so please take appropriate actions”. That’s how it’ll be with us here at Foley. Now, you can imagine, once you have 5, 10, 15, 20, 80, a hundred plus drivers, keeping up with expiration dates just in itself is a very time-consuming thing. When you automate something like that, we’re going to save you a whole lot of time. We know you have so many other things to do for your company, so just streamlining can help with all of that. Further notifications with our platform are random testing notifications, pre-employment drug testing reminders, annual MVR reviews – all that good stuff.
Secure Online Management
Because we’re on an online database, we want to make sure we’re secure. And our security here at Foley is top tier. So, very secure online management, things are encrypted, it’s done properly. Once you get set up with us, you’ll have your own credentials to access your dashboard, and if you have a lot of hands-on and you have an assistant or there are multiple folks there at the company that needs to manage these files, each one of them can get their own username and credentials.
In an event of an offsite audit, data can be downloaded and sent to the auditor within minutes; again, this gets done really quickly. 48 hours is your turnaround time, so if you have things on paper currently, you need to give us a call after so we can get you digital. This way, if there is some sort of offsite audit occurring at any time soon, you’ll get those documents over to that officer quickly and easily.
Have Questions? (860) 815-0764
So I’m going to leave some time here. This is going to be some Q and A, but if you do have some questions, if I can’t get to them all, give us a call at (860) 815-0764. Now, I’m going to just give it a second here while we wait for some of these questions to roll in. Okay, we’ve got one person here asking us if they can have multiple TPAs within their Clearinghouse account. So yes, you can. A lot of folks will have a current vendor they’re working with, and then they’ll switch over to a company like us, like Foley, and they’ll have us for the remainder of their drivers or for their new hires, so yes, to answer your question.
Another question we’re getting is on MVR monitoring – so MVR monitoring is not necessarily a requirement to stay compliant. It’s one of those things that we want to provide in order to help you be proactive and to minimize risk. But as far as the other things we have discussed today, those are 100% requirements here.
Okay, we’ve got a question coming in about additional documents on the Foley platform. So, what we do here for you as far as the DQ files go is, we get you compliant, so we get what’s required, but we give you the ability to actually upload your own documents. We know a lot of organizations may have their own sort of internal paperwork that they use to manage their drivers or to get their drivers to sign off on certain things. 100% we do give you the ability to upload that as well, so you can put everything under one umbrella and keep everything organized, and again, going back to what I mentioned, keeping everything streamlined. A side note on that is that for any additional documents that you decide to upload; if they have an expiration date on them, we’ll treat them the same as with those other DOT required documents like a CDL. So, if there’s an expiration date, that’s 60-days – we’ll shoot you an alert and let you know that that’s coming up on renewal.
We have a question coming in about drug and alcohol testing. For drug and alcohol testing, we don’t confine you to one specific location. What we would do is provide you the ability to put in a zip code for wherever your driver is or wherever your driver is going to be. And at that point, we’ll feed you a list of different locations you can choose from.
We’ll take in a couple more questions here, and then again, please everybody, give us a call after this webinar. We have a killer team here that can address all your comments, questions or concerns. So, question coming in on the Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse is for CDL drivers. So if your company has non-CDL drivers, then that does not pertain to the Clearinghouse. So, non-CDL doesn’t need to be enrolled in the Clearinghouse.
I’ll give it another second or two to see if any other questions come in. Okay, I think that’s all for now. All right, everybody. Thank you again for tuning in today. My name is Vinnie De Andrade. If you have further questions on DOT compliance in general, our team here at Foley can be a great resource to get you started off in the right path. We would love to see what you’re currently doing, and if we see anything that raises any signs or any red flags, then we can most definitely can point you in the right direction. So, give us a call let’s connect, and let’s talk compliance. Take care, everybody. And again, thank you for tuning in.