A Closer Look at Reasonable Suspicion Training

The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires certain supervisors to undergo training in reasonable suspicion. This requirement covers supervisors working in the trucking, airline, transit, railroad, pipeline, hazardous materials, and maintenance of way sectors. Reasonable suspicion training empowers supervisors to make appropriate decisions regarding the drug and alcohol testing of employees.

Understanding Reasonable Suspicion Testing

Safety-sensitive employees are required to undergo drug and alcohol testing at certain times, such as when they are hired. Additionally, supervisors may initiate reasonable suspicion testing if a safety-sensitive employee is showing possible indicators of drug or alcohol misuse. Reasonable suspicion testing is intended to protect the public welfare by identifying and handling employees who are misusing alcohol or drugs, and by serving as a deterrent to reduce the risk of alcohol and drug abuse in safety-sensitive sectors.

Exploring Reasonable Suspicion Training

Federal code requires supervisors to undergo two hours of reasonable suspicion training. One of these training hours covers alcohol misuse. The second covers illegal drug use.

Identifying the Components of Reasonable Suspicion

In the training course, supervisors will learn about the criteria for making a reasonable suspicion testing determination. All test determinations must be made on the basis of the supervisor’s objective and specific observations of the employee. A “gut feeling” is not an adequate basis to initiate reasonable suspicion testing. Rather, if called upon, the supervisor must be able to articulate observations about the employee’s behavior, speech, body odors, or appearance. These observations should be suggestive of alcohol misuse, illegal drug use, or drug or alcohol withdrawal. It should be noted that the supervisor must directly make these observations. It is insufficient for the supervisor to rely on secondhand reports from other sources, such as other employees.

HDS Safety Services is pleased to offer comprehensive and customizable training courses for drivers and supervisors. Supervisors are invited to enroll in our reasonable suspicion training course, available both online and in-person. Call our office in Tucson at (520) 622-0419 for additional information about DOT-certification in reasonable suspicion.