Organizations that must comply with U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) drug-testing regulations face some new requirements starting on Aug. 25. The new rules affect “return-to-duty” drug tests given to employees who previously tested positive or underwent drug rehab. The rules don't affect first-time tests.
The new regulations aim to crack down on workers who try to cheat the follow-up tests. They require urine tests to be directly observed by the tester. The goal: Make sure the worker doesn’t use altered urine. The new rules also require the employee to raise his or her clothing above the waist and lower clothing and underpants and turn around to permit the observer to determine whether the employee is using any device that could interfere with the urine collection.
Note: If you outsource your drug testing, make sure that company is adhering to the new rules.
These regulations also expand the existing “refusal to test” definition to include: 1) admitting to the collector that the specimen was adulterated or substituted; 2) possessing or wearing a prosthetic or other device that might interfere with the urine collection process; and 3) failing to permit the collector to make the type of inspection described above.
The new regulations do not sit well with everyone. The AFL-CIO has asked the DOT to reconsider implementation. They describe the new drug tests as particularly invasive.
Advice: Employers should remember that these regulations only apply to “return-to-duty” and “follow-up” tests. Normal random drug testing for employees who have no previous history of drug abuse are not affected.
Further, employers who worry about potential liability under the new regulations such as sexual harassment, invasion of privacy, etc. may use other means to test for drugs, such as testing hair or blood samples. These methods are more expensive in the short term, but are virtually impossible to adulterate and may be less troublesome in the long term.
For more advice, read the DOT fact sheet, Best Practices for DOT Random Drug and Alcohol Testing.
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