Oral fluid collection can also reduce costs of compliance with Part 40 since oral tests can cost $10 to $20 less than a urine test.
With many years in the making, the DOT is finally adding the oral fluid testing procedures to the existing urine drug testing procedures for safety-sensitive transportation employees subject to drug testing under Part 40.
This has been expected since the DOT wants to harmonize with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) oral testing guidelines in Oct 2019 and DOT updating their chain of custody forms (CCFs) late last year to include oral testing.
According to the proposed rulemaking, HHS determined that oral fluid testing conducted in accordance with the OFMG provides “the same scientific and forensic supportability of drug test results as the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs using Urine….” (84 FR 57554).
In proposing oral fluid testing, the DOT is not requiring employers to use oral fluid testing instead of urine testing, or for every test reason (e.g., pre-employment, random, etc.). Instead, they are proposing to offer employers the flexibility in the type of specimen they collect.
What is the most effective method for drug testing?
The problem with this question is companies are considering dropping urine for oral or hair testing for every type of reason an employee would be tested. This is misguided.
There are various reasons for testing employees:
- Reasonable Suspicion
- Follow-Up or Return-to-Duty
Each reason for testing has their own goals for keeping employees and assets safe.
Urine testing: As the most common testing method, urine testing can detect recent use, between one to three days and is suitable for all testing reasons and types of drugs being tested.
Oral saliva testing: Mouth swab testing is the least invasive method of testing and can detect recent drug use within the first few hours to 48 hours. This makes oral testing the best testing method for both reasonable suspicion and post-accident testing.
When it comes to a return-to-duty drug test, which are directly observed, oral fluid collection is much less intrusive on the tested employee’s privacy. Instead of watching the urine stream into a cup, a mouth swab is a much better solution with a short detection window.
Hair testing: Using hair samples from the body is the only method of drug testing that can detect drugs and alcohol in the system from a week to 90+ days, unlike urine testing, which only detects drugs and alcohol up to 7 days. In recent statistics from Quest, hair testing provides nearly twice the number of positives drug tests than urine testing due to its longer detection time-frame and is the best option for a pre-employment or random testing program.
When looking at updating your company drug testing policies, we believe a mix in methods is the most beneficial in your drug testing programs. Again, it is important to note that there are various restrictive state drug testing regulations that may prevent companies from drug testing, who they can or cannot test and why.
CNS Drug and Alcohol Services
At CNS, we offer a comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Consortium Service and are a certified consortium and third-party administrator (C/TPA).
Our experts ensure that all DOT rules and regulations are followed, including the implementation of random drug tests for you and your drivers, updating your company drug testing policies, record retention and document purge management.
We take all the necessary steps and precautions to keep you and your drivers compliant with the DOT drug and alcohol testing requirements.