- Domestic Vessels

6/22/2015: Preventing drug and alcohol misuse within the maritime transportation industry

Written by Patrick Mannion, Coast Guard Drug and Alcohol Prevention and Investigations Program Manager

Earlier this month, the Coast Guard presented at the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association, or DATIA, Conference.

The presentation focused on the Coast Guard’s role in preventing drug and alcohol misuse within the maritime transportation industry and focused on two issues of concern affecting chemical testing service providers.

The Coast Guard is facing a number of challenges on this front; there are several state and local initiatives to legalize certain drugs, access to unregulated synthetic drugs is growing and abusers are willing to use adulterants to circumvent the chemical testing process.

Over 270,000 mariners and 5,000 marine employers are subject to the chemical testing requirements contained in 46 CFR Part 4, 46 CFR Part 16 and 33 CFR Part 95 . Moreover, over 20,000 drug and alcohol testing service providers to include medical review officers and substance abuse professionals; consortiums and collectors are also subject to regulation and enforcement by the Coast Guard.

Chemical testing challenges

One of the areas for Coast Guard concern centers on post-casualty chemical testing, improper chemical testing and testing occurring after the required time period.

Chemical testing service providers should clearly communicate, to their marine employer clients, the logistical challenges preventing the timely testing of crewmembers. The Coast Guard suggested retaining multiple testing kits on-board a vessel to ensure that alcohol testing is completed within the two-hours following a casualty.

Consortium challenges

Consortiums provide management and oversight of chemical testing programs for independent owner and operators in the same way as marine employers would. When consortiums identify incidences of refusal to test or failed chemical tests, they have a responsibility to ensure these events are reported directly to the Coast Guard immediately and not left to the mariner to self-report.

Visit the Coast Guard’s website for the Drug and Alcohol Prevention Program for further information.

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.