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Parts-Receiving Personnel Not Subject To Drug Testing

The FAA recently verified that receiving inspection personnel should not be included in the random drug-testing pool of a "14 Code" of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 120 program. 

Sixteen organizations signed on to a Feb. 15 request for legal interpretation after FAA Drug Abatement Division auditors questioned why employees receiving items for stock are not tested. Industry groups, including the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA), Aerospace Industries Association and Airlines for America argued that receiving inspection personnel do not perform safety-sensitive functions because their duties are not included in the definition of maintenance or preventive maintenance.

“A receiving process simply verifies that incoming parts or materials are what they purport to be,” the group wrote in a letter to the chief counsel’s office. “These receiving activities do not require the creation of a maintenance record because no tasks to which Part 43 applies are being performed; therefore, they are not safety-sensitive functions under Part 120.”

The groups also argued that including nonsafety-sensitive personnel unnecessarily dilutes the random testing pool—which incidentally can result in a regulatory violation.

The assistant chief counsel agreed with the coalition, confirming that accepting articles for stock does not constitute maintenance or preventive maintenance, and personnel performing those functions are therefore not safety-sensitive employees under Part 120.

This most recent interpretation follows a long line of drug and alcohol testing enforcement refinements. Industry—led by ARSA—staunchly opposed a 2006 rule that expanded testing programs to maintenance subcontractors “at any tier,” arguing that the agency had not properly considered the impact it would have on small business. The years-long battle ended in a court order requiring the agency to repeat its economic analysis. Since then, industry has kept monitoring the agency to ensure regulatory requirements surrounding drug and alcohol testing are clear and consistent.

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