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Comparing Reasonable Suspicion and Random Testing

Drug and alcohol testing are important parts of maintaining a safe working environment for many businesses, especially those companies that are subject to DOT regulations. Both reasonable suspicion and random testing play roles, but what is the difference between them, and how should they be applied?

Reasonable Suspicion Testing

Reasonable suspicion testing—also called cause testing—is, as the name suggests, performed when there is a reason to believe that an employee is using drugs or alcohol. Reasonable suspicion testing is used on both DOT-regulated companies and non-DOT businesses, but there are very tight rules that apply to how it can be applied.

First, your workplace must have a clear drug and alcohol policy that has been provided to employees and that they acknowledge receiving. This policy should state the procedure for reasonable suspicion testing, how and when it can be applied, and who can order it. Generally, this kind of testing can be ordered when there are signs of impairment on the job, but the symptoms must be observed by a supervisor—not simply reported by another employee—and the reasons for ordering a test must be documented. Following these guidelines is essential for avoiding legal complications regarding improper reasonable suspicion testing.

Random Testing

Random drug and alcohol testing is done without warning or pattern, in the absence of any indicators of substance abuse. This kind of testing is required by the DOT for employees who work in safety-sensitive fields. For example, truck drivers are subject to random testing.

Employees who are subject to DOT rules are required to comply with all random drug and alcohol testing requests. Refusing to do so can result in removal from duty.

Drug and alcohol testing requirements can be complex, but HDS Safety Services can help you navigate the process while building a safer workplace. For drug and alcohol testing Tucson, please call (520) 622-0419.