Substance Abuse Professionals – Thriveworks in Westborough, Massachusetts
5 East Main St., Suite 3
Westborough, Mass. 01581
Tel: (774) 377-4939
If you perform safety-sensitive functions in the transportation industry, you have the responsibility to provide a safe work environment for your co-workers and the millions of people who travel in numerous modes of transportation throughout the nation each day of the year. In order to ensure a safe work environment, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has established work rules, including rules on drug use and alcohol misuse. The rules related to the drug and alcohol testing of safety-sensitive transportation employees include those individuals in aviation, trucking, railroads, mass transit, pipelines and other transportation industries.
Why are Safety-sensitive Employees Tested?
According to the U.S. DOT, the short answer is that safety-sensitive employees are tested for the safety of the traveling public, co-workers and themselves.
The longer answer is that the U.S. Congress recognized the need for a drug and alcohol-free transportation industry, and in 1991 passed the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act, requiring DOT Agencies to implement drug and alcohol testing of safety-sensitive transportation employees.
Testing Positive or Refusal to Test
According to the U.S. DOT, when you test positive or refuse a test, you are not permitted to perform safety-sensitive duties for any DOT-regulated employer until you have seen a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) and successfully completed the return-to-duty process, which includes a Federal return-to-duty drug and/or alcohol test.
Working in a safety-sensitive position before successfully completing the return-to-duty process is a violation of the regulations.
What will a SAP Do?
Under DOT regulations, SAPs are Substance Abuse Professionals that play a critical role in the workplace testing program by professionally evaluating employees who have violated DOT drug & alcohol rules. SAPs recommend appropriate education, treatment, follow-up tests and aftercare.
SAPs are required to have a certain background and credentials, which include clinical experience in diagnosis and treatment of substance abuse-related disorders. They must also complete qualification training and fulfill obligations for continuing education courses. While SAPs do make recommendations to the employer about an employee’s readiness to perform safety-sensitive duties, SAPs are neither an advocate for the employee or the employer, and they make return-to-duty recommendations according to their professional and ethical standards as well as the DOT’s regulations.
Note: Even if a SAP believes you are ready to return to work, an employer is under no obligation to return you to work. Under the regulations, hiring and reinstatement decisions are left to the employer. Also, under FAA regulations, SAPs cannot return a pilot to duty without the prior approval of the FAA’s Federal Air Surgeon.*
*U.S. Department of Transportation
If you have failed a random drug test or one that followed an accident that occurred on the job, and your position falls under the guidelines of the U.S. DOT, it is necessary for you to see a (SAP). The responsibility of the SAP is enormous, and the safety of the millions of people who use the nation’s transportation systems is of paramount importance. The SAP is certified, trained and has the knowledge to be in the role. Thriveworks SAPs, in accordance with the guidelines of the DOT, are the professionals who:
- Evaluate employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation.
- Make recommendations about the education, treatment, follow-up testing and aftercare of the individual.
- Monitor the process.
- Represent the major decision point—and, in some instances, the only decision point—an employer may have in choosing whether or not to place an employee at the steering wheel of a school bus, at the controls of a plane, at the helm of an oil tanker, at the throttle of a train, in the engineer compartment of a subway car or at the emergency control valves of a natural gas pipeline, according to the DOT.
- The ability to say that the employee has—or has not—complied with his recommendations.
What a SAP Does Not Do
In is important to note that a SAP is not an advocate for the employer or the employee. The role of the SAP is to protect the public interest in safety by professionally evaluating the employee and recommending the appropriate education/treatment, follow-up tests and aftercare.
It is also essential to know that the SAP does not provide counseling to the employee.
SAPs do not make a “fitness for duty” determination as part of the re-evaluation (unless required to do so under an applicable DOT agency regulation). The employer (the DOT) decides whether the employee should be placed back to work in a safety-sensitive position. In short, the SAP is the person who verifies if the employee has successfully complied with his initial recommendation.
At Thriveworks, the SAPs are professionals who are knowledgeable of the DOT guidelines. They meet the following criteria:
- Clinical experience in the diagnosis of substance abuse-related disorders.
- An understanding of how the SAP role relates to the responsibilities employers have for ensuring the safety of the traveling public.
- Meet all SAP standards and training requirements.
- Hold qualifications and credentials to fill the role of SAP.
- Regularly attend continuing education activities.
- Demonstrate the knowledge and understanding of reporting that the employee has or has not complied with the SAP’s recommendation.
- A passing score on the examination for the role of SAP.
- Understand the U.S. DOT’s expanded and revised drug use and alcohol misuse prevention rules for the commercial transportation industries.
- Possess the background and reasoning of the DOT’s drug and alcohol testing program.
- Know the DOT’s drug and alcohol testing rules.
- Knowledge of DOT drug testing requirements, such as laboratory testing and collections.
- Understand the role of the SAP in the initial employee evaluation, referrals for education and/or treatment, the follow-up evaluation, continuing treatment recommendation and the follow-up testing plan.
- Knowledge of reporting and record-keeping requirements.
How Quickly Can I Get an Appointment With a Thriveworks SAP?
Thriveworks SAPs typically schedule initial evaluations within five business days. In addition, the SAP’s recommendation about appropriate education and/or treatment program is dependent on your specific needs, which includes the presence of and, if identified, severity of your drug or alcohol problem. The SAP will identify the level of drug and/or alcohol use in order to make the recommendation about education and/or treatment.