Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.
Issue link: http://uscgproceedings.epubxp.com/i/617100
42 Proceedings Winter 2015–2016 www.uscg.mil/proceedings (PCP), and amphetamines — during pre-employment screenings, via random testing throughout the year, after serious marine incidents, and whenever reasonable suspi- cion exists. 4 The National Maritime Center also requires each mariner making an application or application for renewal to submit a recent urinalysis or "periodic" test. Prescription Drugs The Drug Enforcement Administration's 2014 National Drug Threat Assessment reported that the annual economic cost of controlled prescription drug non-medical use (use beyond that of prescription) was more than $53 billion in 2011, with painkillers being the most commonly abused. It is clear that prescription drug abuse is gaining steam throughout our society, and this type of drug abuse has the potential to impair a mariner's faculties to a greater extent than the rec- reational drugs identifed and tested for in our regulations. While the Coast Guard does not mandate testing for pre- scription drugs, marine employers certainly are wary of their abuse. In an effort to ensure vessel, cargo, and employee safety, as well as that of the marine environment, marine employers may implement their own testing requirements that go beyond what Coast Guard and Department of Trans- portation (DOT) regulations require. Current regulations don't require marine employers to report the results of non-DOT testing to the Coast Guard, which is disappointing to Coast Guard investigating offcers and the S&R National Center of Expertise (S&R NCOE). 5 They are just as interested in the results as marine employ- ers and medical review offcers (MROs) across the nation, and similarly concerned about the rising nature of these cases and the danger they present to marine safety. In 2014, marine employers voluntarily reported 54 cases of drug use to the Coast Guard that involved positive tests for drugs outside of traditional DOT screening. You're Busted Those who abuse prescription drugs (take a controlled sub- stance either without a prescription or beyond the bounds of prescribed use) are discovered several ways, and marine employers are the key. As part of a company policy, marine employers test after an injury, following a reportable marine casualty, or because a fellow crewmember or supervisor suspects a mariner may be operating under the infuence. Frankly, a marine employer may choose to test for any rea- son, but whether the Coast Guard can use those test results for suspension and revocation actions depends on a num- ber of factors, particularly if the mariner was provided fair notice of the testing requirements. Suspension and revoca- tion action on non-DOT drug tests is generally permissible, drug without a prescription would still be considered "drug use." Unfortunately, the Coast Guard has no mechanism in place to test for such illicit use at this time. Under current regulations, 3 marine employers must test for fve drugs — marijuana, cocaine, opiates, phencyclidine Prescription Drug-Related Incidents Any discussion about prescription drug use on the water- ways necessarily recalls major accidents stemming from their efects. In October 2003, the Staten Island Ferry allided with its pier, causing 11 fatalities and 71 injuries. Fatigue resulting from painkiller use is noted as contributing to the incident. A Coast Guard small boat patrols in the Port of Oakland near the M/V Cosco Busan. Unifed Command photo by Petty Offcer Prentice Danner, U.S. Coast Guard. In November 2007, the container ship Cosco Busan allided with the Oakland Bay Bridge, spilling more than 53,000 gallons of fuel oil. The pilot's use of impairing prescription medications is cited as one of the main incident causes. Bibliography: Report of investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident involving allision/personnel casualties — Andrew J. Barberi on 10/15/2003. Report of investigation into the allision of the Cosco Busan with the Delta Tower of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on November 7, 2007. The outside lower level of the Staten Island Ferry Andrew J. Barberi after it struck a pier, killing ten people. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Offcer Mike Hvozda.