Coast Guard regulations for drug and alcohol testing are to provide a means to deter the illegal use of controlled substances by merchant marine personnel and to promote a drug-free and safe work environment for the safe passage of embarked passengers and for carriage of cargo on U.S. waterways. Enforcement of these regulations by the U.S. Coast Guard is necessary to ensure that marine employers have taken the necessary steps to have a safe and drug free working environment by conducting testing when required and in the manner described in the regulations. The USCG regulation is 46 CFR Parts 4, 5, and 16. The summary and highlights of these regulations are as follows:
Covered employee: A person who is on board a vessel acting under the authority of a license, certificate of registry, or merchant mariner's document. Also, a person engaged or employed on board a U.S. owned vessel and such vessel is required to engage, employ or be operated by a person holding a license, certificate of registry, or merchant mariner's document.
Types of tests for drugs: Pre-employment, periodic, random, reasonable cause, and post- serious marine incident (SMI), return-to-duty, and follow-up.
Types of tests for alcohol: 49 CFR Part 40 alcohol-testing requirements do not apply to the Maritime Industry. 46 CFR Part 4.06 requires post-SMI chemical testing for alcohol use. 33 CFR Part 95.035 allows for a marine employer or a law enforcement officer to direct an individual to undergo a chemical test for intoxicants when reasonable cause exists or a marine casualty has occurred.
An SMI is defined in 46 CFR 4.03-2. In general, an SMI is: A discharge of 10,000 gallons or more of oil into the navigable waters of the United States, whether or not resulting from a marine casualty; a discharge of a reportable quantity of a hazardous substance into the navigable waters or into the environment of the United States, whether or not resulting from a marine casualty; or a marine casualty or accident required to be reported to the Coast Guard, involving a vessel in commercial service, and resulting in any of the following: One or more deaths; an injury to any person (including passengers) which requires professional medical treatment beyond first aid, and, in the case of a person employed on board a commercial vessel, which renders the person unable to perform routine vessel duties; damage to property in excess of $100,000; actual or constructive total loss of any inspected vessel; or actual or constructive total loss of any uninspected, self-propelled vessel of 100 gross tons or more.