DOT Opioid Testing Proposal Final Review

The Trump Administration is finally working on finalizing a proposal to require opioid testing for transportation workers in certain positions. These positions include railroad engineers, pilots, air traffic controllers, truck drivers, and other employees who are subject to federal drug and alcohol testing regulations.

Two weeks ago, the proposed rule was undergoing final review, which may continue for several weeks. This is being pushed forward after House Democrats raised concern that the administration had stalled the process.

Current Drug Testing Procedures

The Department of Transportation currently only administers a five-panel drug test (marijuana, cocaine, and PCP) for safety-sensitive transportation workers. However, the skyrocketing abuse of painkillers and other street opioids in recent years has caused Democrats on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to take more stern action.

Combatting the Opioid Epidemic

In 2016, it’s estimated that 11.8 million Americans abused opioids. In January this year, to combat the growing opioid crisis, the Department of Health and Human Services updated its mandatory guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs and allowed the Transportation Department to add four prescription opioids to its drug-test panel: hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and oxycodone.

The Transportation Department issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to adopt the Health and Human Services guidelines on opioids, but comments on the proposal were due six months ago, and this is the first progress heard about the rulemaking.

Helping Transportation Employees

Once a formal law mandating that these guidelines created by Health and Human Services are in place, the hope is that this testing will prevent any fatal transportation errors and accidents. There are no laws requiring employers assist their employees who test positive for opioids. However, having a Drug-Free Workplace Policy that includes assistance for employees to seek treatment and keep their job after completion of such programs will help promote a healthy life and give these employees another reason to turn away from opioids for good.

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