Notwithstanding AMS’s calls for a three-month moratorium on federally mandated drug and alcohol testing, program guidance issued by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) on March 23, 2020, contains the stark statement that DOT-regulated industries “must” comply with DOT testing requirements.

Employers are instructed to make “a reasonable effort” to obtain the necessary testing resources and to use mobile collection services if clinics are not available. Employers are required to document the reasons why any required test has not been completed. The guidance indicates a willingness to accommodate some delay (e.g., random testing later in the selection period, follow-up testing later in the month), but not an indefinite suspension of testing. No waiver or delay of pre-employment testing is authorized for prospective employees who would perform safety sensitive functions.

AMS recognizes that specimen collection by shipboard supervisors would eliminate the risk of mariner contagion via exposure at shoreside clinics or to outside specimen collectors whose prior social contacts cannot be ascertained. 49 CFR Part 40 permits collections to be conducted by a supervisor when other collection options are not available.

In order to facilitate this option for marine employers, AMS has developed an emergency specimen collection training program that can be conducted for individuals or small groups (no more than five participants) via Zoom or Skype. The normal individual charge will be reduced by 40% to $300.

Because the instructional method is necessarily inferior to the in-person method preferred by the DOT, the duration of these collection certificates will be limited to the duration of the current national health crisis. However, trainees receiving these emergency certificates will be permitted to re-certify by participating in any regularly scheduled in-person AMS collector training at no additional charge.

Again, this program is an option for marine employers who are interested in alternative collection strategies.

For additional information on our Emergency Collector Training Program, please contact Mark Meeker at Mmeeker@maritimesafety.org or Bryan Kelk at Bkelk@maritimesafety.org Telephone: (914) 997-2916