Drug and Alcohol
New resource: FRA recently developed an Rx-OTC pamphlet to apprise regulated railroad employees of their responsibilities regarding prescription and over-the-counter medications, herbal remedies, and state marijuana laws. The pamphlet also highlights some alarming trends regarding prescription use in the U.S. To learn more, see the Prescription and Over-the-Counter Training Module text below under Resources.
Who Is Regulated Under FRA’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Requirements?
For purposes of 49 CFR Part 219, FRA has designated regulated employees to be those who perform service under the hours-of-service laws (covered service) and maintenance-of-way employees as defined as a "roadway worker” in 49 CFR 214.7. In addition, any employee who, on behalf of a railroad, performs mechanical tests or inspections required by 49 CFR Parts 215, 221, 229, 230, 232, or 238 on railroad rolling equipment, or its components, is also subject to Part 219 requirements.
As of March 4, 2022, the term "regulated service" includes all hours-of-service employees, roadway workers, and mechanical employees, inclusive of "regulated service" contractors, and also individuals who may volunteer to perform regulated service duties for a railroad. These generally include the following crafts or functions:
- Train and engine service employees involved in the movement of trains or engines (e.g., conductors, brakemen, switchmen, engineers, locomotive hostlers/helpers)
- Dispatching employees who issue mandatory directives (e.g., train dispatchers, control operators)
- Signal employees who inspect, repair, or maintain signal systems
- Maintenance-of-way employees performing duties of roadway workers as defined in Section 214.7
- Any employee who, on behalf of a railroad, performs mechanical tests or inspections required by Parts 215, 221, 229, 230, 232, or 238 on railroad rolling equipment, or its components, as defined in "Mechanical or MECH employee" in Section 219.5, which became effective March 4, 2022.
FRA Guidance on Drug and Alcohol Testing Requirements During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
The DOT Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy posted “DOT COVID-19 Drug & Alcohol Testing Statement of Enforcement Discretion for Substance Abuse Professionals and Service Agents” here.
It provides that DOT will not pursue enforcement action against Substance Abuse Professionals that engage in remote assessments/evaluations for employees with drug and alcohol violations or service agents that fail to timely re-qualify during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
FRA has developed model compliance plans to assist railroads and their regulated service contractors in complying with Part 219 requirements, with updates of Part 219 regulatory requirements and xx1x1the addition to random drug and alcohol testing of mechanical employees, as defined in "Mechanical or MECH employee" in Section 219.5.
FRA developed a Prescription (Rx) and Over-the-Counter (OTC) medication Training and Policy Toolkit and an FRA Letter to the railroad industry regarding 49 CFR 219.103 requirements. FRA is concerned primarily with those Rx-OTC medications that may cause impairment through drowsiness and fatigue and lead to railroad accidents. Section 219.103 requires, at a minimum, that a regulated service employee’s prescribing physician be made aware of the employee’s assigned duties and medical history and deem that the use of that substance (and dosage level) is consistent with the safe performance of the employee's duties. In addition, Section 219.103 allows for an employer to require that employees notify the railroad of therapeutic drug use and/or obtain prior approval for such use.
Regardless of whether an employer is requiring the minimum employee physician review or a company Rx notification, medical review, and appropriate restriction policy, the FDA Online Label Repository should be used as the source information by which to make that determination. In addition, the repository has important information regarding prescription and over-the-counter medication warnings, precautions, dosages, and interactions.
- Prescription and Over-the-Counter (Rx-OTC) medication Training and Policy Toolkit
- Rx-OTC Policy (FRA Letter)
To follow up and re-emphasize the information found in the letter above and the Prescription and Over-the-Counter (Rx-OTC) Training Module and Policy Toolkit, FRA developed an employee Rx-OTC pamphlet for regulated employees. The pamphlet is intended to apprise Part 219-regulated railroad employees of their responsibilities regarding prescription and over-the-counter medications, herbal remedies, and state marijuana laws as well as some alarming trends regarding prescription use in the U.S. Railroads and unions are encouraged to distribute and post this pamphlet on intranet sites and websites and in common areas. Railroad associations are encouraged to share this pamphlet with their member railroads for their employees and contractors.
FRA has a customized post-accident toxicological testing (PATT) program that includes blood, urine, and tissue (for post-mortem) specimen collection through the use of more than 6,000 toxicological testing kits located at railroad locations across the nation. PATT requirements are covered in 49 CFR Part 219 Subpart C. FRA has developed the following technical assistance materials to assist railroad employers in complying with the PATT program: