Are maintenance of ways (MOW) employees covered differently than DOT testing employees?

Q:

Are maintenance of ways (MOW) employees covered differently than DOT testing employees?

A:

The Department of Transportation (DOT) includes the following branches:

  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
  • Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
  • Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)
  • US Coast Guard (USCG)

Each of these branches must comply with DOT's general drug testing regulations and they each have their own industry-specific guidelines to follow under DOT. DOT rule 49 CFR part 40 covers the policies that all transportation industries must comply with when it comes to workplace drug and alcohol testing [Learn more in "Who does DOT regulation 49 CFR part 40 cover?"].

Maintenance of ways (MOW) employees fall under the FRA. As outlined in DOT rule 49 CFR part 214, MOW employees are those who perform maintenance of ways/road-worker functions who are employees or contractors of a railroad. They perform regulated functions such as inspection, construction, maintenance or repairs of railroad tracks, bridges, roads, communication systems, electric traction systems, and other functions on or near the track.

In addition to DOT rule 49 CFR part 40, which all industries must adhere to, the FRA has it's own set of industry-specific policies that MOW employees fall under. These are outlined in 49 CRF part 219. 49 CRF part 219 provides the complete rules that MOW and other FRA employees must follow. This includes post-accident testing, reasonable suspicion testing, reasonable cause testing, pre-employment tests, random alcohol and drug testing programs, and drug and alcohol testing procedures.

A summary of Federal drug and alcohol testing for the FRA covers the policies for drug and alcohol prohibitions, prescription and over-the-counter medications, direct observation urine collection, shy bladder procedure, refusal to test, fatal flaws, and collisions at highway-rail grade crossings.

The FRA also provides drug policy templates specific to railroads and contractors to ensure compliance. All employers within the FRA must comply with Federal regulations including:

  • Written documentation highlighting the reasons behind the decision to drug test
  • The requirement for employees who have been directly or indirectly involved in an incident outlined in CFR part 219 to provide urine and blood samples for testing

[Find out more in "What are the regulations covering Maintenance of Ways (MOW) employees?"]


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Elly has been inspiring people to make sustainable changes to their health, fitness and lifestyle for the past 15 years. She offers online solutions for people who are looking to get started on, or improve their health and fitness. She blogs regularly, writes for a number of health and well-being publications and is the published author of a holistic weight loss book.

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