Substance Abuse Testing After an Accident

I got an e-mail from my boss recently sharing a Maine client’s request for information regarding drug testing. Specifically, about drug and alcohol testing as part of their accident investigation process:

“Do you know, or can you point me in the right direction, regarding drug testing policies? Is it permissible to establish a blanket policy to require employees to be drug/alcohol tested as part of an accident/incident investigation?”

The Maine Substance Abuse Testing Law makes the establishment of a "blanket policy" somewhat complex—even following a suspected incident of abuse. Under this law, testing can be conducted either prior to hire or after, but if after hire there must be probable cause or testing must be conducted randomly. Furthermore, unless substance abuse testing is required by federal or commercial driver’s license regulations, a Maine employer is required to

  • submit a substance abuse testing policy to the Bureau of Labor Standards for approval before conducting testing,
  • use a testing laboratory that is licensed by the Department of Health and Human Services, and
  • for probable cause and random testing, employers with 20 or more employees, must have an Employee Assistance Program that is approved by the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Substance Abuse.

The Maine Department of Labor has created model substance abuse testing policies to help employers and to ease their review of the policies. Your preferred medical provider is another key player in this process and can help you in implementing a post-accident substance abuse testing policy.

More information can be found in Substance Abuse Testing Report 2007, which is prepared by the Maine Bureau of Labor Standards.

Although this information references laws pertaining to the state of Maine, all states have similar agencies for guidance. If you are a MEMIC customer, and are unsure about the regulations and your responsibilities, contact your MEMIC safety consultant or an attorney.