Safety and OSHA News

Now more employees have to be watched while urinating for drug tests

The Transportation Department will require direct observation collections for all return-to-duty and follow-up drug tests for transportation workers in safety-sensitive jobs.

The provision has been on-again, off-again since 2008.

Recently, a federal court ruled that transportation safety was a compelling reason to mandate observation when employees who previously failed or refused to take a drug test are retested.

The rule requires observers to check people producing urine samples for prosthetic or other cheating devices. This provision takes effect Aug. 31, 2009.

The court took into account the recent development of a wide array of available cheating devices (see our previous article here). It also said the rule didn’t violate the Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. The judges on the court stated unanimously that employees who had failed or refused a previous drug test had diminished expectation of privacy.

Transportation Department (DOT) data show that the violation rate for return-to-duty and follow-up testing is two to four times higher than that of random testing.

DOT’s rule negates any collective bargaining agreements that prohibit or limit the use of direct observation collections for return-to-work and follow-up testing.

(Click here for the Federal Register notice on the new regulation.)

Do you support DOT’s decision to require observed collections in these circumstances? Let us know in the Comments Box below.

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  • MJ

    SO sad that a rotten few(?) have destroyed our right to privacy. However, for everyone’s safety – these drastic measures ARE very justified & necessary!

  • Richard

    Is there not another “choice” of test method available to the employee? Blood test or hair folicle for example? This would grant privacy of the privates.

  • Candace Donofrio

    Personally, I very much disagree with drug testing. I have lost job opportunities due to a perfectly valid prescription which caused a positive test result. Even though “they” aren’t supposed to allow prescriptions to affect a person’s job or getting a job, it has happened to me, more than once. Our rights in this country are slowly being taken away, or we are forced to do things which should be our choice (such as here in Michigan they force us to wear seatbelts). When you allow these smaller things to infringe on us, they inevitably, gradually and over time, become larger and larger things. I fear there may come a day in the next decade when we will be told what type of car we can own. No more hot rods for us car enthusiasts! But of course, all these things are “for our own good”, so that makes them OK. NOT!!!!! Anyway, I’m tired of being made to feel like a criminal or a drug addict when I happen to have a positive test result because of a prescription. It is absolutely NO ONE’S BUSINESS but my own, what prescriptions I’m taking. I feel like some kind of guilty idiot, having to explain to a potential employer about an anti-depressant or a pain pill that I take for MY PERSONAL HEALTH WHICH IS NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS!!! Also, why must potential employers need to see all my personal financial information on a credit report? That is totally unacceptable, that they have access to my personal information, plus make a decision based on the fact that I let my credit cards get out of control a few years back. People, this stuff is WRONG!!! Employers got by all these years without drug tests/credit reports, whatever happened to hiring a person based on their qualifications and presentation of self, and if they don’t work out, then they don’t work out! I mean, come on, most people are not fired because they are a drug addict or they don’t handle their personal finances well. They are fired because they don’t do their jobs well for whatever reason, or they have a difficult personality, etc. etc. There’s gotta be someone out there who agrees with me!
    Forcing all of us to give up our privacy and dignity because of a few bad apples that a company is trying to avoid ahead of time, is not a good enough reason, in my opinion, to violate my privacy and my rights. And now I might actually have to pee in front of someone watching me? God, I’d rather go live in the woods, build a cabin, grow my own food, and avoid a job altogether rather than suffer such ridiculous indignity. OK, I’ve had my say. Good day to all!

  • MJ

    Don’t know about other tests — suspect that time & money would be the issue, but sure would seem a little less invasive & probably be more accurate!

    ‘Ms. Michigan’, In a perfect (dream) world, I might agree. However, if I were running a business & going to be signing your paycheck, in OUR world I’d feel differently! Even the legal meds. people take might interfere with one’s productivity, cause absences, or even cause the overall charges for health insurance to go up. Personal financial information often says something about a person’s level of responsibility. Today that almost seems unfair as demanding as jobs are becoming -stretching people further & further, resulting in ‘homework’. But in the big picture, thanks to a screwed up system, if they don’t work out, the employer is likely to pay for hiring mistake for years. Additionally, business are folding by the minute. They must be as smart as they can.

  • Judy French

    I don’t agree. The right to privacy is not a privilege it is a right. Nobody should have to be watched going to the bathroom. You are never going to catch everyone and sometimes people start after they take a job do to stress.

  • EAW

    I am a collector for DOT(FAA) drug and alcohol. The last thing I want is to check another out and watch them pee, but that’s what I get paid for. Direct observed are not all that common. If they already failed a test they should be observed, if they are trying to cheat a test they should be observed. I completely agree with the DOT on this one. There are too many chances for an accident (proven over and over, watch the news) for an employee to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, cause an accident and kill people. If you are given a return to duty or followup test then you are getting a chance to KEEP YOUR JOB, so drop your pants and be greatful for the paycheck. If you don’t want it ,I’m sure there are ten people out there that are drug free and could use the pay. Candace, the MRO for your company(s) is supposed to contact you on any questions regarding a test (confidentiality applies here) and report to the employer only the results. The employer should not get your medication history.

  • Becky

    I was just about to say most of that EAW!
    This article is just for your everyday (or month, or year) drug tests. This is for someone that has previously failed a test or tried to alter a test. If we are required to take them back, then we have a right to know that they are going to come back to work safely.
    Candace, you should have been given the opportunity to explain your medications to the MRO. While you are right about the fact that your medication is your business, it is also your responsibility to let your employer know that you are on medication that may affect your ability to do your job safely. I don’t know anything about the credit check, I know here we only do a criminal background check.

  • Becky

    scratch that,
    I ment to say it ISN’T for your everyday random checks. Gosh

  • Safety Guy

    The article states in the first paragraph that, “The Transportation Department will require direct observation collections for all return-to-duty and follow-up drug tests for transportation workers in ‘safety-sensitive jobs’.” What exactly is a safety-sensitive job?
    I have delivery drivers that deliver my products “structural materials” to my customers.

    Any enlightenment would be appreciated.

  • EAW

    I am in aviation so i’m not positive but I’m pretty sure that if you hold a license above chauffeur, as in CDL(semi) or haz mat(tankers) or public transportation(bus) you are safety sensitive. Go to the DOT website. The info is there.

  • Ed Piere

    To bad so sad, when a person fails it’s the employers fault. It’s against the law and they choose to break it so who is at fault? Those who follow the rules and are treated with respect and don’t have to have someone watch pee. Then those who think they can be outside the law and regulations then it is unfair when they test positive and rules become more stringent. I deal with MRO’s on a regular bases and have never found one that doesn’t checkout all the in’s and out’s before making a call that someone tested positive.
    Myself I believe that there should be more testing to anyone who has a drivers license at random.

  • JP

    You still have your “right to privacy”. If you refuse to let your employer watch you give your sample you will not be arrested. Cant work for them anymore but you have the right to say no. All employees should understand employer expectations before they ever show-up for their first day of work. It’s simple, if you are not willing to play by the employer’s rules then don’t take the job. You’re not being forced to do anything.

  • Wayne

    Candace, geez! All I can say is: you should just go build your cabin in the woods. The only thing is however; you still need funds to do that. Sounds like you will need a job after all. So, next time, just inform your potential employer of docter prescribed medication. It is simple. We all have rules and laws that are for the safety and protection of others as well as ourselves. When folks have mind altering substances in there system, the workplace, roadways, waterways, airways and in my way, is no place for them.
    With 20 million Americans using illicit drugs, we are all at risk of an unexpected accident coming our way that we will have no fault in. So you think, Candace, that we should just let it be? You need that cabin in the woods – and don’t come around me.
    The bottom line: our workplaces are at risk! Let’s do even more to protect our safety! If it didn’t cost so much, I would recommend weekly drug testing for all employees, because you can’t alway tell when someone is a druggie. BTW – the same goes for alcohol!

  • Jerry

    I’ll take a sobriety test everyday I show up for work but what I do on my time is my business. Your company shouldn’t own you, they only get to rent you for 8 hours a day.