Employer Solutions for Reasonable Suspicion and Post Accident Testing

Ensuring that your employees are in a safe and excellent environment plays a pivotal role in enhancing their performance. One of the ways to can keep your employees safe is by implementing proper non DOT reasonable suspicion training for supervisors at work.

These pieces of training help supervisors and HR personnel to identify some signs of a worker/ employee who might be under the influence. Furthermore, it also helps to understand some necessary legal procedures when requesting an employee to take a drug test.

What is a reasonable suspicion?

Reasonable suspicion is a legal term that is common in law enforcement. However, reasonable suspicion is not an accurate representation. Instead, it is largely based on a hunch or suspicion that someone might have an illegal substance or using drugs. However, FMA Health claims there must be concrete and specific facts that an employee might be under the influence of drugs or other substances.

Reasonable suspicion is also used by traffic police, schools, government and private sector, and some child abuse cases. In the professional world, reasonable suspicion is usually applied the same way as it is used in law enforcement. The term is usually used in drug testing policies and procedures when creating HR handbooks and regulations for dealing with cases of drugs and substances at work.

Reasonable suspicion observation checklist for cause drug testing

If you are an employer, supervisor, or work in human resources, you need to be keen when investigating someone using drugs. You must be able to identify a few signs to have grounds for reasonable suspicion. The signs are as below:

  1. An employee finding it difficult to stay awake at work
  2. Too many unexplained breaks or truancy
  3. The employee appears to be withdrawn from their colleagues
  4. The employee has damaged company property or gotten into a work accident
  5. The employee shows physical signs of using alcohol, such as dilated eyes, slurring speech, or smelling substances.

Can an employee conduct a random drug test?

In some states, employers cannot carry out random drug tests without reasonable doubt about using drugs. However, employers, especially in private institutions, don’t need a reasonable doubt to carry out a drug test in some states. Some courts have also ruled that your employer can carry out random tests to keep employees safe while handling the machines if your work requires you to deal with heavy machinery. In the majority cases, instant drug testing is used for a random drug test.

Implementing a reasonable suspicion flow chart

Reasonable suspicion flow chart
source: https://www.clark.edu/about/jobs-and-employment/drug-free/drug-free-flowchart.pdf

As an employer, it is important to have proper policies and guidelines to deal with reasonable suspicion. HR managers and supervisors must also be well versed when it comes to post accident drug testing laws. This helps provide a proper framework regarding investigations and recommendations for drug tests. Here is how to check for a reasonable drug test:

Observe the employee

Let’s assume you suspect or have received complaints about an employee being under the influence. You need to document the instance or take a statement immediately. You should also note details such as the suspicious behavior of the employee. What were some of the signs you observed? It is important to have a proper written record of this statement not to appear going by hearsay or gossip from people in the office.

Once you have a record, you can begin to observe the employee in question. For instance, you can look at them from a distance and note any signs of behavior change. You can also talk to them to see if they are under the influence. You can also send someone else to observe them as well to have two witness accounts of the employee.

Confirm, document, and assess observations

Take note of the signs when observing the employee. Are their eyes dilated? Do they have any drug or alcohol odor? Are they unsteady or unusually dizzy? Is their speech slurred? Are they unconscious, or do they sleep a lot?

Once you have received both personnel witness accounts and appear to be the same, resign the employee some of their duties and call them for a formal meeting. In the meeting, discuss some reasonable suspicion examples and explain why they need to take a drug test and why you have resigned him/her. Once the employee agrees, organize for a test as soon as possible.

How to handle Results?

Once the employee agrees to go for a drug test, he/she should not report to work until the results are out. If the drug tests come back negative, the employee is free to return to work. However, if the tests reveal any presence of drugs, an employer has two options. First, the employer may give the employee a last-chance agreement stipulating that the employee will seek treatment and counseling services. Then, if caught again, they can be relieved of their duties. The other option is to terminate the employee immediately if indicated in the company’s drug-testing policy.

Is post accident drug testing required?

In a report, the US Labor Department observed that drug and substance abuse contributes to around 65% percent of workplace-related injuries. Therefore, employers must put in place a solid post accident drug tests policy that abides by OSHA rules and guidelines. In addition, the employer must have reasonable doubt that the person was under the influence. This testing for staff is quite popular.

OSHA Post accident drug testing rules

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides vital guidance regarding issues such as what is a non dot recordable accident, the procedure to document post accident drug testing cases, and the do’s and don’ts if you are going for a drug test for your employer.

OSHA requires that employers not use threats of a drug test as retaliation if they report a workplace injury. It also advocates that employers report work-related injuries immediately and keep proper and elaborate electronic records of the same. If a company has less than 20 workers, they are not particularly obligated to observe this. However, companies with more than 250 employees and are in high-risk jobs must keep an accurate electronic record of when the event occurred and what they should do.

In addition, OSHA discourages that there should be a mandatory drug test when a workplace accident happens and instead advocate that there must be reasonable suspicion. By reasonable suspicion, it means that the test should only be administered if the employer believes that the employee was under the influence. The tests should be done 8-32 hours after the accident has happened. Any reason regarding the delay of a test should be done revealed in a memorandum or affidavit or both for the test administration.

DOT Procedures and guidelines

The Department Of Transportation provides rules and procedures on what is dot recording accident. It mainly deals with traffic accidents and workplace accidents. Some of the instances where a DOT drug test might be required to be done include:

  1. When an accident resulted in the death
  2. When the accident resulted in someone requiring medical care
  3. If one car or machine was completely wrecked
  4. If there is enough reasonable suspicion signs or your ID appears to be fake

Post accident drug testing by a DOT drug test rules recommend that for a test, there must be a memorandum or an affidavit provided before the test. In addition, the drug test must be carried within 32 hours after the accident happens. If, due to some reason, the 32-hour window period lapses, the police should be provided an elaborate reason in writing about the same. If a test is submitted and does not meet that criterion, it is marked as a fatal flaw in the lab and is immediately rejected.

What should you have in your car just in case of an accident?

Drivers should be keen when driving and should have a few things just in case of an accident. Some of the things you are required to have included:

  • Proper Car registration documents
  • Round flares
  • First Aid kit
  • A basic car tool kit
  • Pad and Paper
  • Flashlight
  • Proper ID – It is important to have proper ID

Which of the following might make you suspect that an ID is fake?

  • If there is a blurry or red-eye look on your picture
  • The printing is not clear
  • There is no logo or government seal


It is important to take the right steps to ensure that your workers are safe as an employer. One of the ways to do this is by having drug test policies that will keep your workers safe. What are some of the ways you keep your employee safe? Do you encourage mandatory testing? Share your thought in the comments section. Also, FMAHealth recommends to you the article about drug testing questions.


  • Carolyn Gaughan

    Carolyn Gaughan is an ex-executive vice president of the Kansas Academy of Family Physicians and represents the state associations of the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians.