Franklin, N.C. – It’s a common pitfall for non-profit presidents and church pastors alike.
Well-intentioned organizations want to provide clients and parishioners with free rides to special programs like camps for underserved kids or even to jobs for challenged adults. So, why not purchase a mini bus or passenger van to provide a much-needed service?
The problem is many charity and church leaders don’t fully grasp the risk and liability they and their clients face. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, one in 12 workers have a substance use disorder. When combined with federal safety regulations, the simple idea of providing some “minor” free transportation services for those in need becomes daunting.
“Without the proper programs in place, the two key issues that trip up well-intentioned church and non-profit leaders are substance misuse and government standards,” said Kimberlee Price, president of Safe-T-Works. “Today, with the prevalence of fentanyl and marijuana use, and prescription misuse, employers and the people who trust them are facing more risks and transportation liabilities than ever before.”
Even a minor accident can lead to overwhelming lawsuits and government intervention. It’s critical for the smallest churches and organizations providing occasional transportation services to know the rules and regulations, and to drug and alcohol test potential employee and volunteer drivers according to state and federal regulations.
For instance, according to the federal government, any vehicle “designed to transport” more than 15 passengers, including the driver, must be driven by someone with a Commercial Driver’s License. And, anyone with a CDL must be subject to regular testing through a federally mandated drug and alcohol testing program.
“When Habitat for Humanity realized the importance of drug and alcohol testing programs, we needed to find local experts for quick turnaround to ensure our clients and employees were safe, all while reducing liabilities,” said Dremia Meier, director of Family Services for Habitat for Humanity and Habitat ReStore. “We were pleased to find a local company that helps us navigate the complexities.”
Price said there is more to it than just drug and alcohol testing programs. Knowing the ins and outs of federal and state regulations is critical. That said, organizations can take some easy actions to reduce risks such as full insurance for all liabilities, background checks on potential employees, and knowing the rules if you cross state lines.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re using a new vehicle or a repurposed school bus, the rules and regulations are real and violating them threatens the safety of your employees, clients and parishioners, as well as threatens the very existence of your organization,” Price added. “It’s better to be safe, and do the research up front to implement a program, than to be sorry.”
Fines can be substantial for non-compliance and be issued daily for up to 10 days for each violation. If violations are not fixed within 30 days, there is the potential of transportation services being shut down until the violations are brought into compliance.
To help educate church and non-profit key personnel and leaders, Price is offering a free presentation Tuesday, August 1, at 8:00 a.m. at the Franklin Chamber of Commerce on 98 Hyatt Rd. in Franklin. Breakfast and coffee will be provided. All regional non-profits and church leaders are invited.
With offices located in Asheboro, Dillsboro, and Elizabeth City, N.C., Safe-T-Works, Inc. provides full-service Department of Transportation and non-mandated drug and alcohol testing, and DOT training. Safe-T-Works provides a comprehensive set of drug detection, workplace protection, and employee training services. The 100% woman-owned business holds many certifications and accreditations within North Carolina and nationally. Its primary objective is to help clients achieve a safe, drug-free workplace – and to do so better and more cost-effectively than any other company in its field.