Laboratory testing has come a long way, especially in recent years with the development of modern testing procedures and equipment. One of the tests that is now considered standard procedure is a DOT drug test. Used in many industries and across many sectors, this has many potential uses and is thought to be crucial for determining safety within the workforce. But, what does that all mean in action? Take a look.
What is a DOT test?
Named as a drug and alcohol test that was used by the Department of Transportation (DOT), there are many industries which now make the DOT test a standard testing procedure with those who are responsible to transportation even if they’re aren’t literally behind the wheel.
The test itself is a wide-spectrum test that can detect alcohol and drug levels through its testing procedure that can possibly impair someone on the job. Anyone who is within the DOT jurisdiction must successfully pass a DOT test, and this is especially so if the employee is working in a position of power or in a sensitive are where clear thinking and judgement is crucial in safety.
Why is DOT testing important?
DOT drug testing is important many reasons, especially when it comes to something as broad as the DOT itself. These are carefully managed tests that are DOT approved and help ensure that everyone who is on the job is capable of being there.
By having these testing standards in place, those who drive city buses, school buses, transport trucks, taxis, control air traffic and more are all held to the same high standard of clarity and professionalism.
Since drug use and alcohol can impact reaction time, general cognition, decision-making and more, DOT testing is what determines whether someone is fit to be on the job or not. In essence, it determines everyone’s safety as far as transportation is concerned.
What shows up on a DOT test?
A DOT drug screen covers quite wide range of drugs to make sure that nothing slips by the test itself. These drugs, amongst others, include:
All of these drugs, as well as alcohol can show up on a DOT test even if they are in the body in small amounts.
When are DOT tests relevant?
A DOT drug screen is used in many, many jurisdictions and sectors because its test results are so clear and focused. Common sectors who include:
- Federal Aviation Administration: Within this category, those who must past DOT testing include air traffic controllers in both non-FAA and US military facilities, aircraft maintenance employees, flight instructions and even security within the airport system. Since all of these positions require clear-headed thinking and impact safety and transportation, all must pass DOT testing.
- Federal Railroad Association: Train dispatchers as well as personnel responsible for hours of service and even the engine and train itself must all pass DOT tests to ensure safety on the rails at every sector.
- Federal Transit Association: One of those large umbrellas, this category includes everyone from vehicle operators to security members to even mechanics.
Some of these titles seem “less important” than others, but the focus here is on the relevance to the general public’s safety. If a mechanic, for instance, is under the influence on the job and makes a mistake when doing an inspection or actual mechanical work on a car or truck, others could be at risk.
Within category and sector, the position that the employee holds as far as safety and risk, is what determines whether a DOT test is important. From the bottom of the rankings to the top, everyone’s need and position is different.
What is the difference between a DOT test and a non DOT drug test?
The difference between a DOT test and a non DOT drug test is all about the position that the test as well as its technician holds. A DOT test must be done in a controlled environment (usually a lab) and it must have a clear chain of custody in order to make sure that the results are accurate to the person who’s name is going to be on the sample. The test itself must be done by registered technicians who are trained and certified in giving DOT samples. This, again, focuses on making sure that the results are accurate and matched to the sample given.
When being tested for both alcohol and drugs, technicians will also be responsible for giving the tests in the right order, at the right intervals for the best accuracy in the results. These tests are all considered to be traditional DOT testing.
Non DOT testing is when the lab does not have the same level of credentials in which it can be “trusted” to the same degree when it comes etc the red tape and other standard procedures that are in place to ensure that the results are accurate. Facilities offering DOT testing are managed by the Department of Health and Human Services that regularly checks and updates the list of approved facilities.
In the case of non DOT testing, the facilities only require certification for either CLIA or CAP. These tests can be done through saliva, hair, nails and more, whereas classic DOT tests are much more specific in the testing procedures. Non DOT tests often don’t hold up in court either, even if they are confirmed through formal DOT drug screens as a confirmation.
From one sector to the next, and from one screening test to the next, DOT testing focuses on ensuring and confirming the safety of everyone through proper DOT results. Commonly done as part of a job application, training, and intermittently throughout the job position itself (as well as though recertification such as with a physical), DOT testing is widely used across many positions in many DOT sectors. As time goes on, it will continue to become even more advanced and widespread to help progress its influence even further.