PHMSA regulations require operators to perform random drug testing on a certain percentage of their “covered employees” (i.e. employees, contractors, and contractor employees who perform regulated operations, maintenance, or emergency response functions on a pipeline or LNG facility, 49 C.F.R. Part 199.3).  49 C.F.R. Part 199.105(c).  The Agency publishes the minimum percentage of covered employees subject to random drug testing each year, with the percentage to become applicable on January 1 of the calendar year following publication.  Id.  According to a recent Federal Register Notice, PHMSA has determined that the minimum random drug testing rate for covered employees will remain at the current rate, 25 percent, during calendar year 2015.

The Agency decides the percentage rate for each calendar year based upon the rate of positive tests reported for the entire industry, as determined from operators’ annual submissions of Management Information System (MIS) reports required by 49 C.F.R. Part 199.119(a).  If the industry positive rate is less than one percent, PHMSA may continue the minimum annual percentage rate for random drug testing at 25 percent.  2013 data reflected an industry positive rate below the one percent threshold, so the 25 percent random drug testing rate remains in place.

The Notice reminds operators that MIS reports should include drug test data for contractors, who are “covered employees” subject to random drug testing requirements, as explained in a previous PHMSA Advisory.  It also notifies operators that user names and passwords required for Drug and Alcohol MIS (DAMIS) report submissions will be available to employees who are registered users of the PHMSA Portal and reminds them of the obligation to submit DAMIS reports annually if they have 50 or more covered employees (smaller operators are required to report only upon written request from PHMSA).  49 C.F.R. Parts 119(a); 129(a).