The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has new regulations updating its drug testing requirements and allowing oral fluid testing for regulated drug and alcohol programs.
However, employers won’t be able to include the oral fluid tests in their testing programs until the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) certifies at least two laboratories to process samples.
Despite the holdup from HHS, the new regulations will go into effect June 1, 2023. Once the laboratories are chosen and the oral fluids testing program is fully implemented, the use of these tests will be mandatory in some cases, according to law firm Littler Mendelson.
Under the new regulation, employers “typically will have the right to determine which type of sample it will collect for drug testing purposes.” This change should provide more flexibility in the sample collection process for both employers and employees.
Third-party administrators and sample collector representatives are urging employers to work with vendors to ensure that their preferred approaches are communicated to their account managers.
The U.S. government embraced the concept of oral fluid testing in December 2019 and the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act required DOT to harmonize its testing requirements with those adopted by HHS for federal workers. However, DOT still “engaged in a detailed rulemaking process and considered feedback from the relevant stakeholders who each play a part in the federal transportation drug and alcohol testing process.”
The final DOT regulation impacts drug and alcohol testing programs that cover about 8 million transportation workers, including each of the department’s sub agencies.