The U.S. Department of Transportation has released a final rule approving oral fluid testing for drugs effective June 1.
Guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services say that, similar to urine testing, “oral fluid testing is scientifically accurate and forensically defensible” set at the cutoffs established by HHS. DOT therefore concluded oral fluid testing is an appropriate alternate testing method for identifying illicit drug use and noted that it has been used for Federal employee testing since 2019.
The addition of oral fluid testing offers employers flexibility in the type of specimen they collect. However, the DOT strongly encourages employers to consider having an alternate method available in case of contingencies, whatever primary method of testing they may choose.
The rule says oral fluid testing is generally less expensive than urine testing, with typical savings between $10 to $20 for each test.
Perhaps the most significant advantage of oral testing is direct observation without compromising an employee’s privacy, says Ken Presley, Vice President, Legislative & Regulatory Affairs & Industry Relations/COO for the United Motorcoach Association.
An additional change allows substance abuse professionals to conduct their evaluations remotely using virtual technology, a procedure permitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Advances in telehealth and feedback from the professionals led to the conclusion.
“With the additional flexibility, reduced cost, less invasive procedure, and the option of employees working with a substance abuse professional virtually, the final rule appears to be very positive,” said Ken Presley. “The final rule is nearly 150 pages, and we are plowing through the subtleties now, but I am encouraged.”
Read the final rule by clicking here.