The United States Department of Transportation is proposing an amendment to include oral fluid testing in it’s industry drug testing program regulations. This revision would add the option for oral fluid testing procedures to the existing urine testing standards for commercial motor vehicle operators and workers in safety-sensitive transportation positions.
The proposed rule was published on February 28th in the Federal Register, stating that it would give employers a choice that will help combat employees cheating on urine drug tests and provide a more economical, less intrusive means of achieving the safety goals of the program. The DOT requests that comments for the prosed rulemaking be submitted by March 30, 2022.
The Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) issued a rule allowing federal agencies to collect and test oral fluid specimens in their drug testing programs. The Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs using Oral Fluid (OFMG) went into effect January 1, 2020. HHS determined that oral fluid testing conducted in accordance with the OFMG provides “the same scientific and forensic supportability of drug test results as the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs using Urine ...”
Because the majority of DOT-regulated urine drug collections are unobserved, the current program is particularly vulnerable to cheating by employees at collection sites by means of adulteration or substitution. “While directly observed urine specimen collections have long been the most effective method for preventing individuals from cheating on their drug tests […], directly observed urine collection may only be done in certain circumstances due to employee privacy concerns.”
The DOT recognizes the advantages of offering oral fluid testing as it is directly observable without invading the driver’s privacy, is generally less expensive, and may resolve situations of “shy bladder” in employees. Oral fluid testing will also offer improved flexibility to employers as there are fewer requirements for oral fluid collection sites. Reduced requirements for collection sites, and readily available collectors should result in timely, less expensive collections for post- accident and reasonable suspicion testing. By allowing oral fluid testing, the testing options for safety-sensitive positions will be greatly improved.
Due to scientific advancements in oral fluid testing and the publishing of HHS’ final OFMG, the DOT is recommending oral fluid testing as a reliable means of detecting illicit drug use for Federal employees. It is proposing to allow, but not require, oral fluid specimen testing as an alternative method. Additionally, the DOT stated that they are not proposing eliminating urine drug testing all together.
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