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Today, America is plagued with an epidemic of substance abuse—particularly opiates. Since January 2018, the Department of Transportation has taken steps to improve workplace safety through their updated DOT drug testing regulations, outlined in 49 CFR Part 40.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, alcohol impairment on the road is not as common as it used to be. Instead, the roads are being crowded with drugged drivers, who are later discovered to have opiates, marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine and other illegal narcotics in their system.

In response to these very concerning hazards, the Department of Transportation has implemented new regulations that employers must abide by.

1. Turn Attention to an Updated Workplace Drug Testing Policy

If there’s anything to take away from this article, it’s that the workplace drug policy needs to be clear, concise and informative to every employee who is driving. This means the drug testing policy needs to be updated to reflect the updated DOT drug testing regulations. Additionally, all employees must be notified of these changes and how they can affect their current position.

For those employers with drivers who are required to carry commercial drivers’ licenses (CDL), they should already be familiar with the policies and procedures governing drug testing as required by the DOT. Employers are still required to test their employees for drugs or alcohol following any fatal crash or accident resulting in injuries needing medical attention.

It’s important for employers to educate their employees and advocate for workplace safety, because the number of people who decide to drive under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol has increased.

2. Be Aware of Four New Substances

Recognizing society’s widespread use of drugs that impair judgement and reduce reaction time, the DOT has updated its drug testing panel to incorporate those changes. Consequently, when the DOT’s regulations went into effect at the beginning of the year, employers became responsible for ensuring their employees are aware that they are also subject to testing for four additional opioids: hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone and oxycodone. The rationale behind this goes directly toward the current opioid epidemic plaguing the United States takes the lives of more than 115 people per day.

3. Update Chain of Custody Forms (CCF)

Remember that CCF form that’s been used since 2010? Well, as of June 30, employers, hiring managers and HR professionals will be required to replace their Federal Drug Testing Custody and Control Forms with the updated version.

There are two changes to make note of. The first change is more form over substance, removing the checkbox and the letters “DOT” from the phrase, “Specify DOT Agency.”

The second change is content focused—adding the four new substances into the mix: hydrocodone (HYC), hydromorphone (HYM), oxycodone (OXYC) and oxymorphone (OXYM). To the general public, these opioids are commercially branded under the names Vicodin, Dilaudid, Exalgo, Lortab, Norco, OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan, etc. The new form also removes methylenedioxyethylamphetamine (MDEA) from the regulation.

In the event that a company fails to use the new CCF form come June 30, there is a lot of post-verification work required to ensure the company has taken the correct steps in administering the DOT drug test. For example, the employer will need to submit a signed statement, or affidavit, attesting to the truthfulness of that old form being the only available form at the time due to circumstances beyond the company’s control or due to an accidental use. Additionally, other statements attesting to the administration of the test must comply with the other requirements as outlined in the regulation, codified in 49 CFR Part 40.

Ultimately, employers need to ensure their workplace is safe, not just for the company, but also for employees, customers and the public. Too many lives are taken as a result of substance abuse because there is a lack of education, awareness and care. The DOT’s regulations aim to make the workplace a positive and safe place for all.


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