2009 Rail Workers’ Alcohol- and Drug-Testing Rates Set

By Roy Maurer Jan 13, 2009
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The U.S. government has set the 2009 minimum random alcohol- and drug-testing rates for covered rail industry employees at 10 percent and 25 percent, respectively.

On Dec. 23, 2008, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) posted on the Federal Register the 2009 rail industry alcohol- and drug-testing rates for covered rail employees, which are effective Jan.1, 2009, through Dec. 31, 2009.

Based on data from Management Information System (MIS) annual reports from 2006 and 2007 in which the random drug-testing positive rate among rail employees remained below 1 percent (.56 in 2007 and .60 in 2006), and the random alcohol-testing violation rate among rail employees remained below .5 percent (.18 in 2007 and .13 in 2006), the FRA maintained testing rates at their current levels for covered railroad employees.

If the industrywide random drug-positive rate exceeds 1 percent, the FRA will raise the drug-testing rate to 50 percent of covered railroad employees. Similarly, if the industrywide alcohol-violation rate is found to be between .5 percent and 1 percent, the alcohol- testing rate will be raised to 25 percent of covered rail employees; if the industrywide violation rate exceeds 1 percent, the testing rate will be raised to 50 percent of covered employees.

In addition to the MIS data, the FRA reserves the right to consider other factors, such as the number of positives in its post-accident testing program, before making a determination on lowering the annual testing rates.

However, railroads can conduct random testing at higher rates, apart from FRA regulations.

Roy Maurer is a staff writer for SHRM.​

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