Thursday, July 12, 2018

DOT Supervisor Training---Is Fentanyl Abuse a Concern for Management?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are aware that the United States is in the midst of an unprecedented opioid crisis.

Pain medications like hydrocodone have long been the focus of news, but a much stronger version of the pain killer, fentanyl, has begun stealing the spotlight. It’s important for supervisors to be informed about his drug, because lives of unsuspecting employees could be at stake if fentanyl is in your workplace.
Fentanyl is a prescription pain killer that’s 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It’s most often used for post-surgical pain and extreme chronic pain. When prescribed by a doctor, it’s taken as a lozenge, injection or a patch. However, illicit drug manufacturers have made fentanyl a street drug. Street fentanyl can be ingested as a tablet or blotter paper, or snorted as a powder.

The problem with fentanyl is that overdose risk is very high, not only for the drug user, but for anyone who comes in contact with it. First responders have overdosed on fentanyl simply by having some of the powder rub off their skin. Without a quick dose of naloxone, a drug that reverses fentanyl’s affects on the respiratory system, people exposed to it can die.

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that between July 2016 and September 2017, opioid overdoses rose 30 percent in the U.S. Although this statistic includes all opioids, including heroin, it shows that the epidemic is getting worse.
Tougher prescribing guidelines for opioids have driven some addicts to the street to get pain relief or a high. It’s more difficult to judge the strength of street fentanyl, making overdose risk very high.

Unless you’ve had recent DOT supervisor training or reasonable suspicion training, you may not be aware of symptoms related to fentanyl abuse. Watch our for employees who seem very lethargic, suffer mood swings or seem to be packing on the pounds. Fentanyl abusers also can hallucinate or have abnormal thoughts. Employees complaining of pounding in the ears, chest tightness or a rapid heartbeat could be on fentanyl.

If you suspect an employee is abusing fentanyl, be very cautious touching his clothing or belongings. Make sure that employees know to avoid touching or inhaling any powdery substance that they encounter.

If an employee stops breathing, call 911 immediately. Fentanyl affects receptors in the brain linked to respiration, and an overdose usually involves respiratory arrest or distress. Follow the 911 operator’s instructions until help arrives.

For DOT Reasonable Suspicion Training, visit

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Relationships with Problem Drinkers

If one of your employees is in a relationship with a problem drinker, they may have behavioral symptoms that could lead you to believe that they--themselves--have a drug or alcohol problem! These employees in relationships with addicts slowly acquire problematic ways of managing communications, social interactions, behaviors, and uncertainties that create conflict with those around them. These are normal responses to addiction-affected relationships. As the disease advances and they may find yourself having to manage these things more often and experiencing emotional stress, creating health issues that contribute to absenteeism. They may have physical symptoms like stomach problems, depression, and sleep problems. If you are a DOT Supervisor, talk to a counselor or your EAP if your company has one, and things appear confusing. A professional will help decide what's going one and suggest options for you to consider. DOT Reasonable Suspicion Supervisor Training for Drug and Alcohol Awareness can be found here.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Federal Railway Administration Post-Accident Drug Testing Training Now Mandatory for 60 Minutes

The Federal Railway Administration now mandates post-accident testing training for supervisors.

This is pretty complex stuff, but all supervisors on railroads and related contractors must be trained. Not to worry. When you purchase our FRA Post Accident Training, you will get the complete Web Course that you keep and  own and install on your own company server. Supervisors can return any time to review the details, even after an accident.

Location of the Training Link:
The program to assist railroads and contractors in meeting mandatory training requirements for the U.S. Federal Railway Administration post-accident training for supervisors is now available at here. These are supervisors who are responsible for regulated service employees per Part 219.11 (g). Specifically, the requirement is to provide training on the qualifying criteria for FRA post-accident testing, and the role of the supervisor in post-accident collections.

Training above is in addition to the one hour of drugs of abuse education and awareness and the one hour of alcohol misuse education and awareness that has been around for quite a while. This makes training for Railway supervisors three hours, instead of two.

This training mandatory and regulated by the U.S Federal Railway Administration as authorized and required under Part 219, Subpart C Testing Requirements.

Background of this Requirement
In 1985, to further its accident investigation program, FRA began conducting alcohol and drug tests on railroad employees who had been involved in serious train accidents that met its specified criteria for post-accident testing (see 49 CFR 219.201). Since the program’s inception, FRA has routinely conducted post-accident tests for alcohol and for certain drugs classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as controlled substances because of their potential for abuse or addiction.

What's Covered in the Program

+ History of railroad accidents and rationale for drug testing
+ Understanding the contents of "Tox Boxes" - the materials
+ Qualifying and non-qualifying events for post-accident drug testing
+ Flow chart representing to successful Post Accident Testing action steps
+ Evacuation to prevent exposures
+ Definition of impact accidents
+ Which crew members to have tested
+ Other regulated employees to test for five qualifying events
+ Refusal to test issues, questions, actions
+ Recalling employees who must be tested
+ Review of Toxicology Boxes, contents, and purpose
+ Paperwork associated with post-accident testing
+ Timely collection
+ Medical treatment priority over testing
+ Where to collect urine specimens in odd situations
+ Sealing and transporting, managing and shipping toxicology specimens
+ Death and post-mortum testing
+ Resources
+ Contacts an the U.S. Railway Administration for Questions
+ Test Questions
+ Handouts
+ Certificate Printable
Discussion of Required Training

We discuss the circumstances associated with different accidents like major train accidents where testing is required; what happens when there is a fatality; impact accidents, fatal train incidents, passenger train accidents, human-factor highway-rail grade crossing accidents and incidents and how drug testing relates to these events. 

We cover the issues associated with the use of “Tox Boxes”;what a regulated employee is; exceptions to training under a multitude of circumstances; responding to incidents; how to obtain specimens; roles and responsibilities; penalties for refusal to test; communications; shipping specimens; how to decide if an employee or employees need to be tested; responsibilities of railroads and employees; requirement by employees to participate in testing; testing of fatalities; time frames within which testing must occur; who must be tested for what; timely specimen collection; breath testing issues; recalling employees for testing after a qualifying event; status of injured employees and post-accident testing; place of specimen collections; consent to be tested is implied for all employees, and no special permission is required; obtaining cooperation of a facility for the purpose of testing; the role of the National Response Center and reporting employees who refuse testing; specimen collection and handling; handling of specimens; forms and proper completion; shipping specimens; FRA access to breath test results; mandatory testing and specimen collection from fatalities; notification of authorities and coroners and medical examiners;

Monday, April 2, 2018

Reasonable Suspicion Training for DOT Supervisor Drug and Alcohol Awareness Education for Mandatory Compliance for the Drug Free Workplace

Observing employees on the job and spotting the signs and symptoms of possible
Stumbling is a documentable behavior if done correctly

impairment that could result from use of alcohol or other drugs is a legitimate concern of business.

A reasonable suspicion checklist that includes a comprehensive listing of possible warning signs and symptoms can help you decide whether to act in accordance with your organization’s reasonable suspicion testing and drug-free workplace policy.

It can also aid you in constructing documentation that is effective and useful. But a list is only half the help you need. The rest is a comprehensive discussion of what all these signs and symptom mean, how to document them properly, what your own myths and misconceptions are about addiction and substance abuse, sub-questions to consider in gathering information, and adopting a mindset that will help you assemble documentation that useful for its administrative purposes, whatever those might be.

When can reasonable suspicion be substantiated? Reasonable suspicion that an employee is using alcohol or other drugs exists when “specific, contemporaneous, “articulable” (able to clearly describe and quantify with senses) observations concerning the appearance, behavior, speech, or body odors of the employee demonstrate the possible use of substances.”

Let’s Hit Every Sign and Symptom from a Checklist for DOT Reasonable Suspicion Training

Employee stumbles and staggers….

When employees stumble or stagger, such a condition represents an unusual level of intoxication resulting from the use of psychoactive substances that also affect psychomotor skills. But not so fast! Most DOT supervisors might think that this is an alcoholic symptom. Most alcoholics on the job never drink so much that the stumble. Because their tolerance is so high, they can drink the amount of alcohol that would cause a non-alcoholic to stumble.

When it comes to an employee who is drunk and stumbling, typically they will be young men who have been drinking alcohol at some social event, party, or reunion. Such a person needs referral, but in most cases—in my experience—these are alcohol assessment and alcohol/drug education referrals, not treatment referrals.

Many alcoholics or drug addicted person can consume psychoactive substances that affect mood and visual or auditory senses, but addicts who have consumed enough of substance that even tolerance does not prevent them from being spotted, is indeed remarkable. Most substance abusing employees do not want to stagger, so doing so means they are out of control.

When your employee stumbles should be recorded. Also record what he or she was doing at the time of observing the stumbling. Also record where they were when the stumbling and staggering occurred, and how you were able to see this behavioral symptom happen. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

DOT Supervisor Training: Handling Hangovers at Work

It happens to most people some of the time. We have a little too much to drink and wake up
DOT Truck Driver is hung over
feeling foggy, achy and sluggish. Some have pounding head, others throw up all morning. But is a hung-over employee something to worry about? It depends. It all boils down to productivity, workplace disruption, and patterns of frequency, impact on coworkers, and more.

The problem is, it’s difficult to say if someone with a hangover is a safety risk. Although researchers know that coordination, decision-making and memory can be affected by abusing alcohol, it’s unclear how long these effects last. It depends on body weight, amount consumed, and whether the liver of the drinker is working optimally.

There are so many variables at play: the amount of alcohol consumed, the gender of the drinker, the drinker’s weight, the time of the last drink and more. Some people experiencing a hangover may have alcohol in their system because their liver is diseased, meaning that it works slower. This means that alcohol will hang around in the system longer.
Even managers with reasonable suspicion training may not know all the symptoms of a hangover. They include:

  • ·         Difficulty concentrating
  • ·         Trembling hands
  • ·         Sensitivity to light and noise
  • ·         Irritability
  • ·         Nausea or vomiting
  • ·         Clammy skin
  • ·         Sluggishness
  • ·         Slurred speech
  • ·         Faint smell of alcohol on skin and maybe breath
  • ·         Headache

DOT Supervisor Training
If you suspect an employee is hung-over, first refer to the company’s alcohol and drug policy. Do not let the employee with a DOT regulated position climb behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Different organizations handle hangovers differently or not all. What you do next depends on how well you know the employee and how frequently he comes to work hung-over. Safety and security are important, so consult with your supervisor to determine what your next move should be. Most employees who are hung-over will not be noticeable to those around them.

An occasional hangover may result in a less than stellar performance from the employee for a day. However, if every Monday the worker arrives at work hung-over, there’s a problem. Employees sometimes believe that anything they do on their own time is their business, but with a considerable number of hangovers the worker isn’t living up to his potential on the job.

Not only is production an issue, frequent hangovers may also indicate that truck drivers or other transportation employees may be drinking on the job, too. A little bit of “the hair of the dog” may help with shaking hands or other hangover symptoms, but it’s not conducive to a safe and happy work environment.

Long-term employees who show up on a Friday morning moving slowly after a big game the night before may not be a problem. Depending on how he feels, you may suggest he go home and sleep it off. However, problem drinking can develop at any age, so keep an eye on the occasional hangover, too. DOT Supervisor Training teaches managers to avoid letting employees drive who appear under the influence, but a hangover is evidence of recent alcohol consumption, so sending an employee for a reasonable suspicion drug test is a legitimate management decision.

Employee assistance programs are essential in getting help for workers who may have a drinking problem. Suggest the EAP if an employee seems to be struggling with any kind of addiction. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Six Ways to Sabotage Your Employee's Recovery

Six Ways to Sabotage Your Employee's Recovery: DOT Supervisor Training tips for managers to help them avoid practicing behavior or initiating discussions with recovering addicts that will sabotage their addiction recovery program

Friday, February 16, 2018

DOT Supervisors: Are Your Addicted Employees Gaslighting You?

Use a checklist with quantifiable signs and symptoms DOT supervisors Training
Have you heard the term "Gas-lighting?"

One of the most effective manipulations that addicts use is called gaslighting. Named after a popular film in the 1940s, gas-lighting refers to someone convincing you that your perceptions, thoughts and memories are incorrect. Abusive spouses do this to domestic abuse victims. And, it is a classic defense used by employees when supervisors do not document effectively, yet attempt to confront them about past job performance problems issues conduct or attendance issues.

Children are famous gas-lighting when confronted about behavioral problems by parents. Adults can be no different, so in DOT Supervisor Training, it makes sense to spend a few minutes on this commonly used defense. The idea is to impress supervisors with the need to use documentation in supervising employees. Any drug and alcohol training program you develop internally or purchase (like the one at should have a solid checklist of quantifiable performance indicators.

Back to the 1940's movie where gas-lighting was made popular. In the movie, a woman is convinced that she is mentally ill by constant lies that her experience of the world around her is faulty.

How do you know your employees are gaslighting you? Here are the top three manipulations to detect:

  • 1.      Obvious lies. Your worker tells you one thing and then tells you the opposite a couple of days later. You begin to wonder if you heard correctly the first time.

  • 2.      Saying one thing and doing another. Addicts tell you what you want to hear and then do whatever they want. They’ll try to convince you this isn’t true.

  • 3.      They personally attack you when you confront them about their lies. They’ll call you crazy or accuse you of lying
  • 4.    Finding others nearby who will be unable to verify the truth, but the active asking a stander's by makes it appear that an alibi obviously exists somewhere.

You need an approach to this disturbing behavior. What do you do if an employee with drug or alcohol addiction is gaslighting you?

  • Do not place your focus on prior incidents. Right now you have reasonable suspicion. Stick with that, and document it.

Good reasonable suspicion training and DOT supervisor training will address issues around gaslighting. Knowledge is power in this situation. This handout in particular is highly recommended, and it's reproducible.

  • Write everything down. If you commit your perceptions to paper, you have proof, at least for yourself, what you said and did. But this documentation will always be considered as strong evidence that you have no axe to grind and are documenting effectively.
  • Recording your interactions also helps you connect with your intuition. Gaslighting, especially over time, teaches you to not trust your instincts. Remember our example of an abused spouse? They also begin to doubt their own sanity, and you will also begin to doubt yourself. A written record will help you regain confidence in your gut feelings.

If you are confused about whether your perceptions are accurate, run them by someone you trust, confidentially of course and without using names of employees you supervise. Your spouse, a longtime friend or a therapist can help you sort out what is true about yourself and your actions, and what isn’t. This is not rocket science. What it takes is objectivity.

Gaslighting makes you doubt yourself and may even be frightening. Take these concerns to the people you love and trust and allow them to help you become grounded in the truth again.

Have others present when you confront the addict who regularly attempts to gaslight you. When someone is attempting to gaslight, there’s safety in groups. Having someone from HR or another supervisor will help you identify inconsistencies in the worker’s story as well as a witness who can collaborate statements made earlier in the conversation.

Addicts who attempt to gaslight their supervisors have a good chance of talking their way out of a situation that calls for a referral to testing. With training and taking steps to combat this destructive behavior, you can make your organization a better place to work.

Get DOT supervisor training for reasonable suspicion of substance abuse.

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