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June 2020: Clearinghouse Improvements / ODAPC Extends Face-to-Face Waiver

SAPs can now make their own corrections on the Clearinghouse

Yesterday, the Clearinghouse announced 2 significant improvements in an e-mail sent to all SAPs who are registered on the Clearinghouse:
  1. The Return-to-duty screen has been revised, to more clearly show that the SAP enters two of the dates on a driver’s record, and the employer is responsible for entering the remaining two dates:  the date of a driver’s negative return-to-duty test, and of the date of the final follow-up test ordered by the SAP.  This change should resolve confusion on the part of employers who thought that SAPs were supposed to conduct the return-to-duty test.
  2. SAPs are now able to correct dates that they entered in error.  It’s a simple procedure, as explained in the e-mail.
In looking through the screens, please notice this sentence on the second screen:  “Drivers are instructed to contact a SAP prior to designating him or her as their SAP in the Clearinghouse.  If you receive a designation request from a driver with whom you have not had previous contact, you should reach out to the driver prior to responding to the request.”  You should feel free to call the driver, since he/she has requested you.  DOT's testing regulations are not subject to HIPAA, so this would not be a HIPAA violation.
Think about this:  Some SAPs have held off on accepting a request until the employee has actually shown up for the first session, and paid SAP fees.  Sometime during that first session, or immediately after, if you are comfortable with this driver as a client, you can go to your dashboard and Accept the request.  Keep in mind, once you click Accept, the driver is your client, and can be removed only by the Clearinghouse, with good reason.  (Not paying in advance for SAP services would not be considered a good reason.)

ODAPC Has Extended the Waiver of Face-to-Face Assessments to September 30

The first waiver date, originally June 30, has been extended for 3 more months, to September 30.  The conditions remain the same, that you must state in your Follow-up Evaluation Report that the assessment and follow-up evaluation have been conducted remotely, and that it must be two-way audio and visual.  (Not by phone.)
ODAPC hasn’t changed the rule.  ODAPC is simply saying that they will “look the other way” at the violations, and they will not pursue action of issuing a PIE.  Normally, conducting an assessment that is not face-to-face would be grounds for charging a SAP with a Public Interest Exclusion (PIE).

PBS Newshour's Coverage of Alcohol During the Pandemic, and Online AA

On June 11, the PBS Newshour carried a 7-minute story about increased consumption of alcohol during the pandemic, and Intergroup’s success with online AA meetings.  You might be interested in seeing it.

Most Employers Don't Know the Rules About Pre-Employment Refusals

Be on the lookout for pre-employment refusals that are wrongly reported.  I came across three of these yesterday.  Here’s what’s happening.
Normally, when employees are at the collection site for a test, they are not permitted to leave for any reason.  They are told that if they leave, it could be considered a refusal.  They can’t go back to their car, they can’t go out to the hallway, etc.  They simply can’t leave.  If they do, the collector must document it on the CCF, and send it to the employer.  It is the employer who must decide whether to call it a refusal or not.  (The collector has no authority to determine that it’s a refusal,  A collector can’t tell an employee that it will be a refusal…though they often do, which is wrong on their part.)
HOWEVER, “leaving the collection site” is different for a pre-employment test.  Here is 40.191(a)(3):
“Provided, That an employee who does not provide a urine specimen because he or she has left the testing site before the testing process commences (see §40.63(c)) for a pre-employment test is not deemed to have refused to test.”
Translation:  When an employee is being tested (random, post-accident, reasonable suspicion, etc.), the test starts the moment he/she enters the door of the collection site.  When an employee/applicant is taking a pre-employment test, the test doesn’t start until the applicant has received (or has selected) a collection kit (a shrink-wrapped box containing the collection cup and specimen bottles).  Once the applicant has a collection kit in his hands, the test has official begun, and he can’t leave.  Up to that moment, the applicant could have left at any time, and it wouldn’t be considered a refusal to be tested.  There are many reasons that an applicant doesn’t get tested:  he might have had second thoughts about the job offer; he might have gotten a better offer in the interim; he might decide that he just doesn’t want to work.  In one case yesterday, an applicant was in the parking lot at the collection site when he got a phone call from a previous employer asking him to come back to work.  He went in to the collection site, told the receptionist that he wouldn’t be taking the pre-employment test that he had been scheduled for, and the employer then reported it on the Clearinghouse as a pre-employment refusal.  Wrong!
A pre-employment refusal could be MRO-determined (substitution or adulteration).  A pre-employment refusal might also be employer-determined, because the employee left the collection site.  But you should ask questions, and make a call to the employer, just to be sure that it was a valid refusal.  It has expensive consequences for an applicant when it isn’t even a violation.  As a SAP, you should help an employer to understand the nuance of this part of the regulation.

SAPlist UREMINDER: SAPlist U For Your Continuing Ed Requirement

SAPlist U provides 12 hours of continuing education related to DOT's testing rules.  It is endorsed by EACC, NASW, and NBCC.  It’s online, convenient, and you can complete it at your own pace.

Go to SAPlist U Continuing Ed
Until next time,

Lee Mauk signature

Lee Mauk  | and SAPlist U
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