Random drug and alcohol testing at the TTC
4. Drug and alcohol testing general details
The policy defines a drug as being any substance, including, but not limited to, alcohol, illicit drugs or medications that have the potential to change or adversely affect the way a person thinks, feels or acts.
Drugs of concern are those that inhibit someone’s ability to perform their job safely and productively. For example,
- Alcohol refers to beer, wine and distilled spirits, and includes the alcohol found in medicines or other products
- Illicit drug means any drug or substance that is not legally obtainable and whose use, sale, possession, purchase or transfer is restricted or prohibited by law
- Medication refers to a drug obtained legally, either over-the-counter or through a doctor’s prescription designed to remedy, control or prevent illness.
The random testing program will test for the same classes of drugs that the TTC currently tests for in post-incident and reasonable cause, including:
- Opiates (indicating use of heroin or illegal use of opiate products)
- Phencyclidine (PCP)
If the TTC concludes that there is justification to include additional drugs in this list, employees will be advised of the change.
Alcohol test cut-off levels
The random testing cut off levels are the same levels that are used for post-incident, reasonable cause and certification testing.
Alcohol readings between 0.02 – 0.039 are considered to be a policy violation at the TTC and are subject to progressive discipline. Alcohol readings of 0.04 and over are considered to be non-compliant and are subject to discipline up to and including dismissal.
The TTC drug cut off levels were determined by experts. The levels only determine recent usage and therefore likely impairment. Essentially, these cut-off levels are low enough to confirm recent use of the drug, but high enough to eliminate side issues like consumption of poppy seeds or normal use of a codeine-containing product in the opiate category, or recent second-hand marijuana smoke.
To be clear, the TTC is not interested in your recreational use of drugs, provided it does not affect your work performance, i.e. You are fi t for duty when at work in accordance with the TTC’s established cut off levels.
Role of the Medical Review Officer (MRO)
The MRO is a licensed physician who receives laboratory results of the drug test in question. The MRO uses medical training, and MRO specific training, to determine if there has been a policy violation or if the result should be reported as negative or safety sensitive flag to the Program Lead or designate.
In order to make this decision, the MRO, upon receiving any positive result from the lab, will make efforts to contact the employee and discuss any medical reasons for the result before reporting the result to the FFD Group.
- When there is an alcohol test reading over 0.02 we always do a second reading to confirm and that the second confirmation test is used as the official result.
- Before a test is conducted, employees are shown the machine is calibrated to 0.00 readings
- The test is administered by trained/qualified collectors
- An experienced MRO reviews and confirms all positive alcohol results.
The TTC assures the accuracy of the testing process by using:
- rained/qualified collectors
- chain of custody, the comprehensive documentation process that follows the sample and documents who and what equipment come in contact, and
- an experienced MRO reviews and confirms all drug positive and safety sensitive flag results.
In addition to all of these protections, the laboratory that processes TTC samples is held to the highest standards set out in the US Department of Transportation drug and alcohol testing standards. Part of this high standard is the lab being “blind sampled.” This means that the lab itself is randomly tested for accuracy. This ensures the high level of accuracy for all TTC sample analysis. The system in place for employee testing has considerable checks, balances and necessary accreditations to ensure the integrity of the process and accuracy of results. These checks and balances are put in place to protect employees and the integrity of the TTC’s testing program.