A SAP will develop and direct a follow-up testing plan for the employee returning to work following successful compliance. The number and frequency of unannounced follow-up tests are led by a SAP and must consist of at least six tests in the first 12 months following the employee’s return to safety-sensitive duties. Follow-up testing can last up to 60 months. The employer is responsible for ensuring that the employee is tested according to the plan. The employer must conduct all of the follow-up tests as well as the return-to-duty test as directly observed collections, which includes a procedure for ensuring the employee does not have a prosthetic and other devices designed to carry clean urine or a urine substitute. Follow-up testing is an important way that the employer has to determine if the employee has stopped using controlled substances or misusing alcohol.
If the SAP determines that an employee referred for alcohol abuse also uses drugs, or that an employee referred for drug use also abuses alcohol, the SAP can require that the individual is tested for both substances. The SAP’s decision to test for both can be based on information gathered during the initial evaluation, the SAP’s consultation contacts with the treatment program, and/or the information presented during the follow-up evaluation.
Follow-up testing is directly related to a rule violation and subsequent return to safety-sensitive duty. Random tests are independent of rule violations. Therefore, the two test types are to be separated – one cannot be substituted for the other or be conducted in place of the other. Follow-up testing should be unpredictable, unannounced, and conducted no less than six times throughout the first 12 months after the employee returns to safety-sensitive functions. Follow-up testing should be spread throughout the 12-month period and not be grouped into a shorter interval, although the testing can be more frequent during the initial months and less frequent during the final period. Follow-up testing can last up to 60 months. An employee subject to follow-up testing will continue to be subject to an employer’s random testing program. It is important to note that a follow-up test that is canceled is not a complete test; a canceled follow-up test must be recollected.
Follow-up testing is not to be conducted in a randomized way. An employee’s follow-up testing program is to be individualized and designed to ensure that the employee is tested the appropriate number of times as directed by the SAP. Random testing is neither individualized nor can it ensure that the employee receives the required number of tests.
Employees testing positive or refusing a test while in a follow-up testing program are subject to specific DOT rules regarding rules violations. In addition, the employees are subject to employer policies related to second violation of DOT rules. At a minimum, the employee must be removed immediately from safety-sensitive duties and must go through the entire SAP process again before returning to safety-sensitive duties.