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DOT Changes Workplace Drug Testing Rules In 2018

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On November 13th, 2017, the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) published a final rule in the Federal Register. These changes will affect all DOT-regulated employers. They'll also have an impact on State aka "Non-DOT" workplace drug testing programs. Employers with workplace drug testing programs should understand the impact that these changes will have. 

The final rule, among other items, adds four semi-synthetic opioids to the drug testing panel. This includes hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and oxymorphone. It also added methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) as an initial test analyte and removed the testing for methylenedioxyethylamphetaime (MDEA). These procedures are in Transportation Title 49 CFR Part 40. We refer to this regulation as Part 40. These changes go into effect on January 1st, 2018. 

Why these changes will affect State or Non-DOT workplace drug testing programs. 

The DOT's and the United States Coast Guard's (USCG) drug testing program is the largest drug testing program in the United States. It regulates transportation employers and employees. These industries include trucking, pipeline, aviation, public transit, railroad, and shipping/vessels. DOT-regulated employers must follow these drug and alcohol testing rules in 49 CFR Part 40. These procedures have evolved over time to create better standards. 

According to the Current Consulting Group, the new regulations will impact over 20 states. This is due to the wording of many state drug testing laws. These state laws require compliance with the federal guidelines by deferring to federal regulations such as the DOT or Part 40. Also, many workplaces that volunteer to put in place a drug testing program follow Part 40.  This is because of the program's standards and that many court decisions have supported these rules. Thus, it's important for all Non-DOT drug testing programs that follow Part 40 to adhere to these changes. Of course, DOT regulated employers must adhere to these changes. 

Employer Workplace Drug Testing Policies - The Part 40 Changes

The DOT agencies posted guidance for DOT-regulated employers. It's about what employer's DOT drug test policies will need to contain for the changes to Part 40. Non-DOT employers that model Part 40 should follow this guidance. 

"There is no need for employers to make any changes if their current DOT policies refer to adhering to 'Part 40'. However, there are exceptions..." -United States Department of Transportation

Here are the exceptions if an employer lists the following optional information in their drug testing policy:

  • If employers list sub-categories of drugs tested under the 5-panel, then "Opiates (codeine, heroin, & morphine)" needs to change to "Opioids (codeine, heroin, morphine, oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone)". Also, remove "MDEA" from the list under Amphetamines or, you can delete the sub-categories of drugs. 

Here's the 2018 DOT 5-panel drug test with sub-categories:

  • Marijuana (THC)
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines
    • Amphetamine
    • Methamphetamine
    • MDMA
    • MDA
  • Opioids
    • Codeine 
    • Heroin
    • Morphine
    • Oxycodone
    • Oxymorphone
    • Hydrocodone
    • Hydromorphone
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

If your policy lists cut-off levels, employers should update them or, you can delete the cut-off levels completely if the DOT policy refers to adhering to Part 40.

It's also recommended for employers to provide a written notice to employees about their updated drug testing policies. 

Changes To The Federal Drug Testing Custody And Control Form 

Most employers choose to contract with professional collection sites to handle the urine collection process. Although, some employers choose to train their own staff and perform urine collections. Whether you're a professional or trained collector, you should be aware of the changes to the Federal Drug Testing Custody and Control Form (CCF). These changes do not affect Non-DOT employers. Non-DOT employers must use a "Non-federal" drug testing CCF.

Because there are more drugs added to the DOT 5-panel drug test, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved a revised CCF. The "old" CCF is the one that has been used under the DOT-regulated program since 2010. 

The revised CCF includes the following changes:

  • In Step 1D:
    • Removal of the checkbox, the letters "DOT" and hash line in front of the text "Specify DOT Agency"
  • In Step 5A:
    • Addition of four new analytes: oxycodone (OXYC), oxymorphone (OXYM), hydrocodone (HYC), and hydromorphone (HYM)
    • Removal of the analyte methylenedioxyethylamphetamine (MDEA). 

Download a copy of the revised CCF here.

When should employers start using the revised CCF?

DOT-regulated employers may use the revised CCF beginning January 1st, 2018. 

Can you still use the 'old' CCF after January 1st, 2018?

Yes, the OMB authorized, and you may choose to use the 'old' CCF until June 30th, 2018. If you use an 'old' CCF after this date, you must complete a 'memorandum for the record' per 40.205(b)(2). You should track your existing supply of 'old' CCFs and coordinate the delivery of the new CCFs. Speak with you laboratory account representative.   

Changes To The Shy Bladder Process

Professional and trained collectors should know that the DOT modified the shy bladder process. The collector will now discard any specimen provided during the collection event when the employee does not provide enough specimen by the end of the three hour wait period. The 'old' rule required collectors to submit any collected specimen to the laboratory after the three hour wait period. 

DOT-regulated employers with workplace drug testing programs must adhere to these changes starting January 1st, 2018. These changes will affect mandatory State and volunteer drug testing laws. Non-DOT employers should understand these changes and update their drug testing policies and procedures. 

This article does not include all the changes in the final rule. Do not rely on this article to determine all legal compliance with the rule. Read the final rule in its entirety on the ODAPC website

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55749 Last modified on Thursday, 04 January 2018
Hagen DeRouen

Co-founder & CEO at Screensoft. 10+ years of experience with employment screening program management and guidance. Certifications including FCRA basic, MRO assistant, and professional collector trainer.