Carriers warn feds’ hair-testing plan may undercut drug clearinghouse

The Trump administration’s plan for using hair follicles to screen truck drivers for drugs could weaken the effectiveness of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse, according to those commenting on the proposal.

While sectors within the trucking industry do not all agree hair testing should be used to screen for drugs — the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association does not support the measure — many of those that do support it believe the guidelines proposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services(HHS) in September are flawed.

The biggest problem, they contend, is the requirement that if a hair specimen gives a positive result, an alternative specimen — urine or saliva  — must also be collected, either simultaneously or when directed by a medical review officer (MRO). That requirement, according to carriers and others, undermines the purpose of hair testing.

“Hair testing is far more likely to detect controlled substances as compared to urinalysis,” commented Jeff Mercadante, vice president of safety for Pittsburgh-based carrier Pitt Ohio. “Under the proposed guidelines, carriers would be required to provide additional evidence in the event of a positive hair test such as the driver admitting to drug use or a second alternative specimen (urine or oral fluids). Carriers will be in a situation where a driver tests positive on the hair test but negative on the urinalysis.” FULL ARTICLE