Drug and alcohol testing update

Drug and Alcohol Testing Update The Permanent Bar By Stephen P. Prentice July / August 1998 Stephen P. Prentice is an attorney whose practice involves FAA-NTSB issues. He has an Airframe and Powerplant license and is an ATP rated...

Simply put, what all this means is this — if the guys in this scenario lose their case for using alcohol while on the job, then this is their first "bite" on alcohol. They do get a second. If this is their second "bite," they are history in the air carrier business. They can of course still work in the FAR 91 field all they want, but they cannot work in the "certificated" air carrier business at all...ever! This rule also applies to any repair station activities if they are involved with repairing air carrier parts. Pretty strong you say? Well, it just points out the importance placed on the subject by the FAA and Congress.

In the case of being caught blowing some maryjane smoke or snorting coke behind the hangar at lunchtime during working hours...well then...you are out of the air carrier business permanently, no bite!

Keep in mind that the "baggage" regarding alcohol does follow you. You might be inclined to think that maybe you wouldn't carry your violations with you to another job. Not true! If you get an alcohol violation at one job, it follows you to the next. You have had your "bite" and you get no more! This is the reason that background checks are so important for the employer and why the FAA looks very closely at company background check investigations. Just let them find an air carrier or repair facility not doing adequate background checks on the safety-sensitive function employees, and all hell breaks loose. Enforcement action can result in substantial fines and may include attacks on the operating certificate itself if the conduct was to continue on subsequent checks.

What you have to remember is this—just because you are in you're own mind, "off duty" on your lunch hour or some other break, you may still be considered to be on the job. Drug and alcohol prohibitions still apply. This is nothing to fool with because you don't want to be threatened with losing your means of earning a living in the air carrier business.
1. No alcohol or drugs on duty.

2. An employee found with a blood alcohol level of 0.04 or more cannot remain on duty in a position requiring the performance of a safety-sensitive function. Such an employee may be terminated or alternatively be required to be evaluated and treated as a condition of further employment. If found with level of 0.02 to 0.039, you will be sent home. If found a second time with a concentration at this level, you are subject to termination.

3. In the case of pre-duty use, crewmembers follow the 8-hour rule. In other words, they have to wait at least 8 hours after consuming alcohol before assuming duties. Technicians and other maintenance personnel come under a 4-hour rule. Keep in mind that "on call" employees who could be called to perform a safety-sensitive function, are subject to the same pre-duty alcohol prohibition. In the event they consume alcohol within 8 or 4-hour rules, they would have to refuse a call to work.

4. No alcohol can be consumed for 8 hours after an accident. (Assuming involvement in some way with the accident via maintenance or operations). That is, any accident as defined by the NTSB, i.e. "an occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft with the intention of flight, including the time that all passengers have disembarked, and, in which any person suffers death or serious injury, or in which the aircraft receives substantial damage."

Keep in mind that "safety-sensitive function" includes just about anyone involved with air carrier activities; even those people who repair parts in shops, and in some cases, those that handle the parts installed on an air carrier aircraft. If you want to be sure to keep your safety-sensitive position in the industry; Stay away from alcohol and drugs! Remember the Permanent Bar.

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