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Coming clean: Drug testing policies in snow & ice

- Posted: October 24, 2017
Mixing heavy equipment and dangerous winter conditions with an operator under the influence of drugs is a prescription for disaster. Alcohol, marijuana, prescription drug abuse and opioid use compromises a person’s ability to safely perform their work, jeopardizing not only their personal safety but also that of their teammates and the public at large.
According to OHS Health & Safety Services, six types of drug tests are typical: pre-employment, random, reasonable suspicion, post-accident, return to duty, and follow-up. OHS notes that of these, most companies rely solely on pre-employment drug tests. However, these are only marginally effective since prospective employees can “study for the exam” so to speak, since they usually have advance notice of the test. Far more effective in terms of deterrence but also the least utilized, OHS says, are random and reasonable suspicion tests due to the element of surprise. Learn more about the types of drug tests and general best practices online at

Patrick McGuiness, an attorney for Zlimen & McGuiness, PLLC, says drug testing is a complex area that should be navigated carefully. If your company doesn’t have a drug testing program or policies in place, McGuiness offers the following tips:

  1. Work with a human resources professional or attorney who is knowledgeable about the industry and understands your state laws when putting a drug testing policy in place.
  2. Make sure your policy is included in your employee handbook and that employees read and understand the policy. An annual review of all employee policies is a very good practice.
  3. Make sure your policy is compliant with both state and federal law. This will be determined by what state(s) the employee is working in, the size of the truck and type of contract. Truck and trailer combinations over 10,000 lb. Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) require a commercial driver's license (CDL) and are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Federal government contracts and subcontracts may also pull the company under federal requirements.
  4. Follow your policies. Having a compliant drug testing policy is useless if the company does not actually follow it.
Note: This article is not intended to service as legal advice. Consult your attorney and fully investigate any applicable state and federal rules and regulations.

View all 2017 Snow Safety week articles and content here. Thank you to our sponsors Caterpillar, BOSS Snowplow, and RAM Trucks
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