Rail Transportation

Rail safety agency expands alcohol, drug testing to cover track maintenance workers

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Washington – Federal Railroad Administration alcohol and drug testing regulations now cover maintenance-of-way employees, fulfilling a requirement of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

Published in the June 10 Federal Register, the Control of Alcohol and Drug Use final rule will increase the scope of FRA’s drug and alcohol testing procedures. Prior to the rule, which is scheduled to go into effect June 12, 2017, maintenance-of-way employees have not been tested unless they died as a result of an incident. The new rule will subject maintenance-of-way employees to the same testing parameters as other employees, including:

  • Random testing
  • Post-incident testing
  • Reasonable suspicion testing
  • Reasonable cause testing
  • Pre-employment testing
  • Return-to-duty testing
  • Follow-up testing

“Whether you are an engineer, conductor or someone working alongside the tracks, safety requires alertness,” FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg said in a press release. “Any reduction in awareness caused by drugs or alcohol use can often be the difference between life and death.”

The final rule represents the agency’s first significant update to its drug and alcohol regulations since 1985.

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