Random Testing in Canada

Random drug and alcohol testing in the workplace is an effective way of reducing safety risks and discouraging workers from misusing substances while on the job. This is particularly true for safety-sensitive positions, where an impaired employee could cause harm to their own health and safety, and/or that of other employees, customers or the public, as well as cause possible property damage or incur financial losses for the employer as a result of accidents due to impairment. Random drug and alcohol testing can be conducted in Canada, however employers need to make sure that their testing program is supported by their drug and alcohol policy. Random alcohol testing with a breathalyzer, for example, is applicable in situations where employees are working in safety-sensitive positions, and random drug testing could be allowed if the testing method being used is shown to measure current impairment.

For both random alcohol testing and random drug testing, certain criteria should exist within the workplace such as employees working in safety-sensitive positions, where staff supervision is minimal and/or non-existent, and there being evidence of risk. Also, within Canada employers must meet their duty to accommodate people with Substance Abuse Disorders (SUD). Since the Canadian Human Rights Act defines substance dependence on drugs and/or alcohol as a disability, an employee has the right to be accommodated by their employer if the employee has been diagnosed with a Substance Use Disorder (SUD).

How Random Testing Works

An employer can request drug and/or alcohol testing for safety-sensitive positions under four different categories. These include pre-employment testing, post-incident testing, reasonable suspicion testing and random testing. For random testing in the workplace, a set percentage of employees are tested annually from the total number of employees, often referred to as a ‘random pool.’ In these situations, every employee has the same chance of being selected for random testing each time. To ensure that this process is equitable and legally defensible, computer-generated software and industry-approved algorithms should be used to perform these random selections correctly and without bias.

DOT Random Testing

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is an executive department of the US Federal Government.  Its main function is to facilitate the nation’s ability to travel safely and keep roadways secure. DOT regulations under the FMCSA (the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) stipulate that drug and/or alcohol testing of truck drivers must be conducted pre-employment, at random during employment, in the event of reasonable suspicion and/or cause, post-accident, before an employee returns to work, for follow-up testing after an employee returns to work following an accident, or as a result of a policy violation. These regulations apply to any Canadian driver who drives into the US, where they fall under the purview of the DOT regulations and therefore are required to undergo random testing as laid out in the 49 CFR §40.347, for the FMCSA. The percentage of employees who must be tested yearly for each agency is laid out here, by the DOT.

If you need help administrating your DOT random testing program we can help you make sure your random pools work just how you need them to! Contact us for more information!