Final FRA Rule Expands Scope of Alcohol and Drug Testing to Include Mechanical Employees

A final Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) rule will expand the scope of alcohol and drug regulations to cover mechanical employees as mandated by the SUPPORT Act of 2018. The rule will amend 49 CFR part 219 and will define a mechanical employee as any employee who, on behalf of a railroad, performs mechanical tests or inspections required by the following FRA regulations: Railroad Freight Car Safety Standards (49 CFR part 215); Rear End Marking Device – Passenger, Commuter and Freight Trains (49 CFR part 221); Railroad Locomotive Safety Standards (49 CFR part 229); Steam Locomotive Inspection and Maintenance Standards (49 CFR part 230); Brake System Safety Standards for Freight and Other Non-Passenger Trains and Equipment; End-of-Train Devices (49 CFR part 232), and Passenger Equipment Safety Standards (49 CFR part 238). In addition, the definition also includes any such employee who performs mechanical tests or inspections required by the Texas Central Railroad High-Speed Rail Safety Standards (49 CFR part 299).  

The initial minimum and annual testing rates for mechanical employees will be set at 50% for drugs and 25% for alcohol. The FRA will also create an independent Management Information System database of industry-wide mechanical employee positive tests and violation rates to set future testing rates.

The final rule is effective March 4, 2022, and testing plans for mechanical workers must be submitted to the FRA within 60 days.

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