DOT proposes oral fluid drug testing as an alternative method

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Washington — The Department of Transportation has issued a proposed rule that would revise industry drug testing protocol by adding oral fluid testing as an alternative to urine testing for commercial motor vehicle operators and other safety-sensitive transportation workers.

In a notice published in the Feb. 28 Federal Register, DOT claims the proposal “will give employers a choice that will help combat employee cheating on urine drug tests and provide a more economical, less intrusive means of achieving the safety goals” of the transportation industry’s drug and alcohol testing program.

The proposed rule stems from a Department of Health and Human Services final rule allowing federal agencies to collect and test oral fluid specimens as part of their drug testing programs. Under the rule, effective Jan. 1, 2020, agencies must initiate individual rulemaking to begin the process of allowing oral fluid testing as an option.

“The advantage of every oral fluid collection is that it will be directly observed, as opposed to most urine collections, which are unobserved,” DOT states. “While directly observed urine specimen collections have long been the most effective method for preventing individuals from cheating on their drug tests by substituting or adulterating their specimens, directly observed urine collection may only be done in certain circumstances due to employee privacy concerns. Unlike directly observed urine collections, an oral fluid collection is much less intrusive on the tested employee’s privacy.”

The agency adds that it is not proposing to eliminate urine drug testing.

HHS is still considering amendments to proposed guidelines – issued in September 2020 – concerning the use of hair samples as a method for drug testing federal employees and safety-sensitive employees in federally regulated industries, the notice states.

Comments on the proposed rule are due March 30.


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