Integrity Testing — United States Coast Guard
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United States Coast Guard

The Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of 1991 requires drug and alcohol testing transportation employees; however, the provisions in 49 CFR Part 40 for alcohol testing do not apply to the Coast Guard or to marine employers.


The Act mandates five types of testing: random (Note: pre-employment and random alcohol testing are not allowed under USCG rules), periodic (Note: Periodic drug testing is defined as renewal of a license or a certificate of registry, a raise in grade of a license, a higher grade of COR, an original issuance of a merchant mariner's document (MMD), the first endorsement as an able seaman, lifeboat man, qualified member of the engine department, or tanker man, or a reissuance of an MMD with a new expiration date shall be required to pass a chemical test for dangerous drugs. Additionally, each pilot required to receive an annual physical examination must pass a chemical test for dangerous drugs as a part of that examination. Reasonable suspicion and post-accident (49 CFR Part 4, Serious Marine Incident) are allowed. The Act permits return-to-duty and follow-up testing under specific circumstances. (Note: The MRO determines when a crewmember returns to work and provides the follow-up schedule.)


49 CFR Part 16 provide a means to minimize the use of intoxicants by merchant marine personnel and to promote a drug-free and safe work environment. These regulations prescribe the minimum standards, procedures, and means to be used to test for the use of dangerous drugs. As part of a reasonable cause drug testing program established pursuant to this part, employers may test for drugs in addition to those specified only with approval granted by the Coast Guard under 49 CFR part 40 and for substances for which the Department of Health and Human Services has established an approved testing protocol and positive threshold.


Crewmembers subject to testing include those on board a vessel acting under the authority of a license, certificate of registry, or merchant mariner's document issued under this subchapter, whether or not the individual is a member of the vessel's crew; or those engaged or employed on board a vessel owned in the United States that is required by law or regulation to engage, employ, or be operated by an individual holding a license, certificate of registry, or merchant mariner's document.


Additionally, those covered under Part 16 will be subject to the civil penalties set forth in 46 U.S.C. 2115. Any person who fails to implement or conduct, or who otherwise fails to comply with the requirements for chemical testing for dangerous drugs as prescribed under this part, is liable to the United States Government for a civil penalty of not more than $5,000 for each violation. Each day of a continuing violation will constitute a separate violation.


Integrity will help keep your company in compliance with USCG program requirements by establishing a complete substance abuse testing program that complies with both the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations as specified in 49 CFR Part 40 and 49 CFR Part 4 and 16. These services include USCG required random drug testing currently at the rate of 25% covered employees. Note again, random alcohol testing is strictly prohibited by USCG.


Expanded DOT program information is available at What Employers Need To Know About DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing [Guidance and Best Practices]


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