Alliance of Freight Carriers Pushes for Federal Recognition of Drug Testing of Hair Samples | 2022-08-31

Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking public comment on a cargo carrier alliance petition regarding the use of hair samples as a drug testing method for commercial vehicle drivers.

Under federal regulations, VMC operators must be tested for drugs by urinalysis. According to a notice published in the August 24 Federal Registerthe Trucking Alliance, a coalition of 11 organizations, is calling on the FMCSA to change the definition of an employer’s “actual knowledge” of a driver’s positive drug test – which requires the employer to disclose FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse results – to include knowledge of a positive hair test.

“We think every employer should at least know that this person failed a hair test,” said Lane Kidd, chief executive of Trucking Alliance. Safety+Health. Kidd added that, of the thousands of positive drug tests via hair tests the alliance has recorded over the years, “not a single person has ever sued the company for falsely accused of using drugs.

In the notice, the FMCSA states that it does not have the legal authority to grant a request for a hair follicle exemption “until the Department of Health and Human Services has taken certain action.” In September 2021, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, part of HHS, sought comment on proposed guidance on the use of hair samples as a drug testing method for federal employees and susceptible employees. to safety in federally regulated industries, including VMC operators.

FMCSA’s Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act of 2015 required SAMHSA to report to Congress on its progress in developing and completing guidelines for drug testing of hair samples. Congress mandated HHS to establish hair testing guidelines by Dec. 4, 2016, but the department didn’t announce until June 2019 that it had forwarded the proposal to the HHS Office of Management and Budget. the White House for consideration.

“We view the ‘actual knowledge’ argument as one that the FMCSA can hang its hat on whether or not HHS offers guidelines, even if Congress has mandated them,” Kidd said. S+H. “We believe the ‘actual knowledge’ angle is sufficient, and the FMCSA may in fact accept the petition, use the actual knowledge, and move forward.”

In its petition, the alliance argues that “public safety is improved through the use of hair testing because drug use is detected more accurately and drug users are removed from driving motor vehicles. commercial”.

The American Trucking Associations has long advocated the use of hair samples as a drug testing method for commercial vehicle drivers.

However, in an article published online August 23 in the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s land line magazine, OOIDA Federal Affairs Director Jay Grimes calls the alliance’s petition “misguided,” citing environmental contamination and variations in hair types among long-standing flaws in hair testing.

“Given the many uncertainties and lack of safety improvements in hair testing, there is no valid reason for federal agencies to adopt some sort of hair testing mandate for drivers,” Grimes said. “This is in large part why the FMCSA does not have the legal authority to even grant the exemption, as rightly mentioned in the advisory.”

Comments on the petition are expected on September 23.

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