Oral Fluid Testing Now Approved by DOT
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s new ruling broadens its industry #drugtesting program to include oral fluid testing. The new rule is expected to significantly impact regulated transportation industries' drug testing programs.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has recently announced a new final rule that amends the regulated transportation industry drug testing program to include oral fluid testing. With this new testing methodology, employers are given an additional option that may help in the fight against cheating on urine drug tests. The DOT also calls it a “less intrusive means of achieving the safety goals of the program.” The new rule is expected to significantly impact regulated transportation industries' drug testing programs, including those in aviation, trucking, railroads, and transit agencies.
The implementation of oral fluid testing will help employers identify drug use in their employees and candidates. Even though the oral fluid drug test detects the presence of drugs for a smaller period compared to a urine drug test, the test will likely result in higher positivity rates since the oral fluid test is observed (markedly eliminating the donor’s chance to subvert the test). The less-invasive nature of this type of testing should also make it easier for employers to administer.
The new oral fluid drug testing rule will help ensure that employees working in transportation-related industries are not impaired due to drug use, thus ensuring the safety of the traveling public and transportation employees.
Before employers can begin using oral fluid testing under the DOT regulation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) must certify at least two laboratories, which can take a considerable period of time. The certification process has not yet been completed, and the DOT will work closely with HHS to expedite the process.
Also included in this final rule are provisions that will update the DOT's regulation “to harmonize, as needed, with the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs using Oral Fluid established by HHS.”
The rule is seen as a way to make testing more efficient. Previously, employees unable to provide a sufficient urine sample are given a second chance (within three hours) to provide an appropriate urine sample or be referred to a physician for evaluation (shy bladder evaluation). The DOT also notes that oral fluid testing will present benefits to employees who are uncomfortable providing urine testing, which can be seen as more intrusive, particularly when samples must be procured under direct observation.
The new oral fluid drug testing rule by the Department of Transportation will be a significant change for regulated industries' drug testing programs, offering a less invasive option in the quest for accurate drug test results. The DOT's emphasis on employee safety is crucial for maintaining the safety of the traveling public and transportation employees. Employers must stay informed and comply with all regulations, including these new regulations as applicable, to ensure safe and efficient transportation services.
Learn more about HireRight’s Drug & Alcohol Screening Services.
Release Date: May 4, 2023
Dr. Todd Simo
Dr. Todd Simo currently serves as the Chief Medical Officer and Managing Director of Transportation at HireRight. He came to HireRight with a decade of experience in the medical consulting arena. Prior to HireRight, he was the Medical Director of an occupational health clinic in Virginia and owned a consulting firm providing medical director service to multiple companies located throughout the country. In that capacity, he established multiple customer specific health and drug screening services. In his current position, he oversees HireRight's medical department.