WASHINGTON -- In an effort to establish the broadest program of tests for alcohol and drug use ever required by a federal statute, members of a House-Senate conference committee have agreed to require millions of transportation workers to take routine tests to detect the use of alcohol, just as many of them are already tested for illegal drug use.
The conferees included the measure in a bill setting spending for a variety of transportation programs in the 1992 fiscal year. The conference committee's decision late Wednesday night makes passage of the measure virtually certain.
All workers in safety-related positions in the aviation, shipping, railroad, transit and trucking industries would be subject to the tests.
They would be given before hiring, upon suspicion of intoxication, after accidents and on a random basis, as well as in regularly scheduled medical examinations.
For the first time, mass transit workers would be added to the rolls of those who face tests for use of illegal drugs, and a legal substance, alcohol, would be added to the list of intoxicants detected by the tests.
Labor unions said they would consider suing to block the new regulations on alcohol testing.
It is expected to take many months for the Transportation Department to devise these rules.