Reasonable Suspicion

Reasonable Suspicion

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Consisting of displayed behavior that may be related to the use, possession, sale, or transfer of controlled substances while the employee is working, just preceding, or just following a period of the work day. Determining reasonable suspicion of an employee must be based on specific, contemporaneous, articulable observations concerning the appearance, behavior, speech or body odors of the individual. These observations may include signs of chronic and withdrawal effects of controlled substances. Supervisors or company officials can only make these observations after completing sufficient training. Employees must proceed to the collection site as soon as possible for testing once reasonable suspicion is determined.

Reasonable suspicion testing is an important aspect to include in a drug screening program. Engaging in a random drug screening program can help maintain a drug free workplace. However, enforcing reasonable suspicion testing when necessary can help ensure the safest workplace possible. Employers should not be oblivious to the fact that drug and alcohol abuse is a common occurrence inside and outside of the workplace. Many drug users tend to apply to companies that do not perform drug screening on their employees. Companies need to be able to recognize the signs of possible drug use and what to do in the event of suspected drug use.drugs at work

Through acquiring a drug free workplace program with AMC, we provide a sample workplace policy covering information regarding reasonable suspicion. However, if your company is in need of a drug screening program through the Department of Transportation, AMC offers a guidebook upon enrollment, detailing reasonable suspicion testing. AMC also offers supervisor training for companies with a Drug Free Workplace Program as well as companies covered by the Department of Transportation in order to help determine if reasonable suspicion exists.

Here are some best practices to follow as you consider reasonable suspicion drug and alcohol testing for your workplace:

  • Make sure reasonable suspicion drug and/or alcohol testing is a part of a company policy.
  • Make sure employees know that they are subject to reasonable suspicion drug testing.
  • All supervisory personnel should receive a minimum of two (2) hours of training on reasonable suspicion signs, symptoms and documentation. Recurrent training is highly recommended to keep supervisors educated and prepared.
  • Determinations should always be made based on current information. Observations may occur just before, during or just after the employee is working. If the employee’s previous actions have been documented, including that information in the current documented observation is acceptable. However, in the absence of current signs and symptoms, a reasonable suspicion drug test would generally not be merited on a past incident.
  • Evaluate signs and symptoms and document. We often hear the words ‘specific’, ‘contemporaneous’ and ‘articulable’ in reasonable suspicion drug testing determinations because these words indicate that the observer has a specific and current concern that can be described. For example:  John came to work today late. He clocked in and then fell asleep in the break room. When I woke him up, he was not startled to see me. He looked at me and went back to sleep. There was a strong odor of alcohol.
  • It is strongly encouraged that at least two (2) supervisory personnel concur that there is reasonable suspicion for a drug test. This protects both the supervisor and the employee.
  • Drug and/or alcohol testing should be done promptly after removing the employee from duty. If the drug or alcohol test is not collected on-site, contact a collection site to schedule the test.
  • The employee under suspicion should not be allowed to drive themselves to the collection site (or elsewhere) without a negative drug test result.
  • Reasonable suspicion drug testing can play an important role in helping to create and maintain drug-free workplace programs. When properly administered, it is a fair and reliable testing method that can help to both dissuade and detect drug and alcohol use.
  • Indications that reasonable suspicion reasons to test exist include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • Odor of alcohol on the body or breath
    • Slurred speech
    • Unsteady standing or walking
    • Inability or difficulty completing routine tasks
    • Disorientation or confusion
    • Erratic or unusual behavior

FMCSA Reg: Direct link to the FMCSA website regulation 382.307