FRA Drug Testing

As the main government agency that regulates and oversees the safety of our nation’s railroads, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has a wide range of responsibilities. The crux of these responsibilities involves maintaining and upholding safety standards, which includes the implementation of a drug testing program.

Specifically, the FRA is responsible for administering drug and alcohol testing for railroad employees in safety-sensitive positions. Because the FRA is actually housed within the Department of Transportation (DOT), the FRA’s testing program takes its cues from the DOT in that it requires testing under certain conditions, establishes minimum drug and alcohol testing rates for each category of employees, and specifies the testing procedures and substances to be tested for. Like the DOT program, the FRA drug testing program aims to promote safety and reduce the risk of accidents and injuries in the railroad industry.

Fleet Drug Testing Has You Covered

Understanding the specifics of the program is only one part of the equation. The other part is actually providing services that maintain and implement these testing requirements to ensure accurate, fast results. When your company is responsible for FRA drug testing, consider working with Fleet Drug Testing Services. Our team provides a full-service solution to your drug testing needs by providing fully compliant methods of testing, reading, and storing results. To get started, contact us today.

An Overview of the Federal Railroad Administration

Originally established on April 1, 1967, The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is a regulatory agency within the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) that oversees and promotes safety in the nation’s railroad system. The FRA’s mission statement is to enable the safe, reliable, and efficient transportation of people and goods by rail. The agency accomplishes this mission by:

  • Enforcing safety regulations and standards
  • Providing grants and loans for rail infrastructure improvements
  • Conducting research and development to advance rail safety technology,
  • Administering programs to support the retirement and unemployment benefits of railroad workers.

The FRA has broad jurisdiction over various aspects of railroad operations, including:

  • Passenger and freight transportation
  • Rail infrastructure
  • Equipment design and maintenance
  • Train crew training and qualifications
  • Hazardous materials transportation

This all amounts to a significant investment of resources to accomplish the agency’s goals. Data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) 2021 report found rail travel comprised the following:

  • 39% of transit trips
  • 53% of miles traveled

Obviously, what this data shows is that a significant number of people either use our country’s railroads to travel to and from destinations or utilize these systems to transport goods from one place to another. What this means is that a comprehensive drug and alcohol testing program is necessary to ensure the safety of anyone that uses our railroad system.

What Are the Federal Railroad Administration's Drug Testing Requirements and Regulations?

The FRA’s drug testing program mirrors that of the DOT, and applies to all those in “safety-sensitive” positions. The FRA defines safety-sensitive employees as those who perform functions that are directly related to the safe operation of a railroad, which can include:

  • Train and engine crew members
  • Dispatchers
  • Signal maintainers
  • Maintenance-of-way employees responsible for the inspection, construction, maintenance, or repair of track, bridges, and other infrastructure
  • Roadway workers who are responsible for the inspection, construction, maintenance, or repair of the railroad right-of-way
  • Hazardous materials employees who are responsible for the handling, transport, or storage of hazardous materials
  • Operating employees who control the movement of trains by radio, telephone, or other electronic means
  • Mechanical department employees who inspect, maintain, or repair rolling stock and equipment
  • Electrical department employees who inspect, maintain, or repair signal systems and other electrical equipment

Transportation department employees who manage train schedules and crew assignments.

Like the DOT’s program, the FRA program includes the following requirements:

  • Pre-employment testing – All safety-sensitive employees must undergo a drug test before beginning work for a railroad.
  • Random testing – Employees are subject to unannounced drug tests on a random basis throughout the year. The FRA requires that at least 25% of all safety-sensitive employees be tested annually.
  • Reasonable suspicion testing – Employees may be tested if there is reasonable suspicion that they are using drugs or alcohol on the job.
  • Post-accident testing – Employees involved in a qualifying accident or incident must undergo drug and alcohol testing as soon as possible following the event.
  • Follow-up testing – Employees who test positive or violate FRA drug and alcohol regulations must undergo follow-up testing, which typically includes at least six unannounced tests during the first 12 months following the violation.
  • Testing methods – The FRA requires drug tests to be conducted using urine samples, and the tests must screen for specific drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, opiates, phencyclidine (PCP), and amphetamines.
  • Medical review – All drug test results must be reviewed by a Medical Review Officer (MRO) who is responsible for verifying the accuracy of the test results and determining whether there is a legitimate medical explanation for any positive test results.

Again, these regulations are codified in federal law, so any non-compliance can be met with swift and serious punishments. More than that, though, this program is in place to ensure the safety of anyone that uses a railroad to travel or transport goods.

Does My Company Have to Comply With Federal Railroad Administration Drug Testing Regulations?

You may be wondering if your company has to comply with these regulations. Whether or not your company is required to comply with the FRA’s drug testing program depends on several factors, including:

  • The type of work your company performs for the railroad industry
  • The role of your employees in performing safety-sensitive functions

If your company performs work that is directly related to the safe operation of a railroad, such as construction or maintenance work, then your employees may be considered safety-sensitive under FRA regulations, and your company may be required to comply with the FRA’s drug testing requirements.

Additionally, if your employees are performing safety-sensitive functions for a railroad, such as operating trains or maintaining signal systems, then they are subject to FRA drug testing requirements, even if they are employed by a contractor or subcontractor.

While the railroad industry is used by a number of different businesses and companies to perform a wide variety of different tasks, the fact remains that compliance with a federally-regulated and enforced drug testing program can have a significant impact on your business. Chances are, if your company is involved in rail travel or transport, you will have to comply with the program. Thus, you may also require our services to make sure all your bases are covered.

Contact Fleet Drug Testing Today To Ensure Compliance

At Fleet Drug Testing, we can make sure that your company remains compliant with any federal regulations and requirements for drug testing programs, including the Federal Railroad Administration. Not only can our expert team keep your company and employees in compliance, but we can also provide you with a full range of services, from testing to records management to make sure that your business can keep moving forward.

If you have to maintain compliance with an FRA or any other federal drug testing program, contact us today to learn more about how we can help.