Get up to Speed on the Latest DOT Regulations in 2018

Lawrence Buirse

The trucking industry has to continuously evolve to keep pace with the growing needs of the marketplace and economy. And with those growing needs come a greater concern over industry safety measures. As a result, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued new Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations for 2018. To keep commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operators current on the evolving regulatory landscape, Concentra® has highlighted some notable DOT policy changes.

DOT Rule Change for Opiates

DOT testing at laboratories certified by Health and Human Services (HHS) will continue to be a five-panel drug test regimen that includes:

  • Marijuana metabolites
  • Cocaine metabolites
  • Amphetamines
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Opioids

DOT has adopted the term “opioids” to replace the term “opiates” and will test truck drivers and other “safety-sensitive” transportation employees for the semi-synthetic opioids hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and oxycodone. By adopting this term and adding these four drugs, DOT hopes to detect a broader range of drugs being used illegally.

Revisions to Medical Review Officer Procedures

A medical review officer (MRO) is a licensed physician who is responsible for receiving and reviewing lab results generated from employers’ drug testing programs. An MRO also evaluates medical explanations for certain drug test results. Some MRO drug test review processes have been modified, including clarification of the definition of “prescription” for proper alignment with the Controlled Substances Act. In addition, MROs are now authorized to request additional testing for THC-V to determine if a positive test result is due to the smoking of marijuana.

New Fatal Flaws

“Fatal flaws” are factors that cause a drug test to be cancelled after a specimen is taken. Three more new “fatal flaws” have been added to the current list of reasons why a lab would reject a specimen:

  • There is no Federal Drug Testing Custody and Control Form (CCF).
  • Two separate collections were performed using one CCF.
  • There was no specimen submitted to the laboratory with the CCF but a specimen was collected.

Collection Clarification

DOT amended §40.193(b)(4) to address what a collector does when the employee provides a “questionable” specimen (due to signs of tampering or when the temperature is out of range) and the employee doesn’t provide a second sufficient specimen under direct observation (by a same-gendered collector) even after being provided with a waiting period of up to three hours. Historically, this has been a confusing process for employers when they send the first specimen to the lab and get a result that differs from the full specimen sample.

As a result of the amendment, a collector is now required to discard any initial specimen collected that was questionable, leaving the MRO to evaluate a “shy bladder” situation that developed if the employee was unable to provide a sufficient specimen for the direct observation period.

Removal of Quality Control (Blind) Specimens

Laboratories are still required to submit to proficiency testing, but the employer or third-party administrator (TPA) is no longer required to submit blind specimens to laboratories. This measure intends to relieve the burden of administrative procedures and costs.

Listserve Requirement

Screening test technicians (STTs), blood alcohol technicians (BATs), MROs, and substance abuse professionals (SAPs) are now required to subscribe to the Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC) listserve to update service agent qualifications and stay current on any changes to materials used in DOT programs.

Clarification of Specimen Types

DOT Rule 49 CFR Part 40 confirms that only urine samples collected and analyzed by HHS-certified labs are allowable for DOT drug screenings. Point-of-care testing (POCT), hair testing, and oral-fluid testing for drugs are not allowable under part 40. One sentence was added in part 40 to emphasize that DNA testing of urine specimens is not authorized and ODAPC will not permit such testing at this time.

Federal Chain of Custody Form (CCF)

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved a revised federal drug-testing custody and control form on August 8, 2017. DOT-regulated employers began using the new form on January 1, 2018, but may continue to use the old CCF until June 30, 2018. Using the old CCF does not require a memorandum for the record. If the revised CCF is used inadvertently and the testing was consistent with part 40, MROs should verify and report the results according to part 40.

Employers impacted by these regulatory changes should update their DOT policy. Also, training your employees or having a designated employer representative (DER) can be critical to successfully meeting DOT standards.

Concentra can help you maintain compliance with state and federal regulations. Our comprehensive substance awareness program covers everything from pre-placement screenings to random drug and alcohol testing. Visit one of our 530-plus locations throughout the country or talk to a Concentra work health expert today.