The DOT Doctor’s Blog

November 6, 2014

State Legalization of Pot and Drug Testing at Work

With the midterm elections over, we have the addition of three states that have legalized marijuana.  DC, Oregon and Alaska have now joined the ranks of WA and CO to allow their residents to legally smoke and carry marijuana on their person.   CA is slated as the next state to have this question on their ballot.

What does this mean in the workplace?   CO Supreme Court is hearing a case regarding marijuana usage by a worker.   It’s outcome should set the guidelines for how companies may proceed regarding non-DOT drug testing.  CO has strict regulations that prohibit you from penalizing a worker in a random test found to have used marijuana unless they are in a safety sensitive function or the position has a bona fide occupational qualifications.  Pr-employment and reasonable suspicion is still allowed.  However, to fire an employee for marijuana usage, outside of these parameters, the worker basically has to be stoned or using on the job.   If CO has this rule in place, you can be sure that the other 4 states have similar regulations or protections for the workers as well.

DOT required drug and alcohol testing supersede these state regulations.  The concern is for companies who wish to implement an across the board testing program for all drivers or all workers.  In many cases, their hands are tied.  In an age where we are all pushing safety; this is quite the ironic twist.

Do you feel safe working next to a person who may be “stoned”?   Do you want to be on the highway with someone in a vehicle next to you who is impaired?   While that driver may be operating something under 26,000 lbs; it is still a vehicle in motion.   While placing someone in jail for having a joint on their person is not practical; neither is allowing someone under the influence to be operating machinery.

I am anxious to see the outcome of the CO case.  I know this is a hot topic with many different perspectives.   How do you think that the spread of legalization of marijuana will affect workplace safety in the long term?   Your comments are welcomed!

How have you made the roadways safer today?

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October 22, 2014

Improving Your CSA Maintenance BASIC

Most maintenance violations are a direct result of poor PTI and/or lack of en-route checks.   I would caution the rewrite of a DVIR unless it is to add items.   Removal of certain items would actually invalidate the form as a “true” DVIR.  Remember, § 396.11: Driver vehicle inspection report(s) outlines what must be checked.   Adding items is fine but be sure to not remove any of the required items.

When I was GM for a Baltimore trucking company, we use to hide items on the truck and reward the drivers when these tokens were found in an appropriate time.   Drivers who failed to find their hidden tokens were reprimanded.  As usual, positive reinforcement worked better than negative.

The main issue I find as a Safety Consultant is that companies just do not take any of this seriously.   They are operational driven and safety takes a back seat.  Small companies are clueless as to the regulations and feel they do not pertain to them.  Still many companies that I visit have no idea that the CSA site exists or what the numbers mean.

There is much more education to be had in the industry as a whole.  Auto fail is not the answer but if we were move to a system where you had be certified to obtain your DOT number; I believe we would see change.   The “I didn’t know” would be gone.   You have to pass a test to be an electrician, plumber and so forth.  Why not do so to be the holder of a DOT number?  It is a privileged to have one and not a right.   It is about safety; then let’s make it so.

Read more: http://thedotdoctor.com/the_dot_doctor_speaks/view/1467

SOURCE:  https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20141016125544-1358303-how-to-reduce-csa-maintenance-violations-by-75-percent-with-better-inspections

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