December 29, 2015

Random Drug Testing – What Employees Are Considered Safety Sensitive?

Random Drug Testing – What Employees Are Considered Safety Sensitive?

Because cities are governmental entities, cities should be aware that randomly drug testing employees who do not serve in safety sensitive positions could result in significant liability.  Testing for employees occupying positions that are not categorized as safety sensitive must be based on a reasonable suspicion that drug use is occurring or in post-accident circumstances.  The information below can be used to help guide you in determining which positions may be safely categorized as safety sensitive.  This information should be reviewed with your city attorney before any action is taken. 

Safety sensitive positions are those that contain duties that are routinely performed as a part of that position which could reasonably be expected to affect the health, safety and security of others.

Below is a list of possible public employees that could be considered to have exceptional safety-sensitive responsibilities in the area of public safety. They include:

  • Police officers
  • Emergency dispatchers
  • Emergency Medical Technicians/Paramedics
  • Firefighters 
  • Heavy equipment operators
  • Employees with commercial driver’s license (CDL)
  • Mechanics working on CDL regulated vehicles
  • Gas pipeline workers

Additionally, a case can possibly be made that personnel who drive certain city vehicles (such as vehicles transporting senior citizens, the handicapped and children), city swimming pool life guards, and personnel supervising children on city playgrounds can be included in the category of safety sensitive personnel. 

When making these determinations the city must keep in mind that random testing can only be done on an employee whose job duties can be shown to directly impact public safety.

For more information on drug testing or other personnel matters, contact Andrea Shindlebower with the KLC Legal Department.