Government Issues

U.S. DOT publishes rule to enhance safety, combat opioid epidemic

Posted on November 15, 2017

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a Final Rule that expands the department’s current drug testing panel to include certain semi-synthetic opioids (i.e., hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and oxycodone) to its drug testing panel for DOT-regulated industries. This is a direct effort to enhance safety, prevent opioid abuse, and combat the nation’s growing opioid epidemic. The DOT currently requires drug testing of safety-sensitive employees in the transportation industries.

“The opioid crisis is a threat to public safety when it involves safety-sensitive employees involved in the operation of any kind of vehicle or transport,” said Secretary Elaine L. Chao. “The ability to test for a broader range of opioids will advance transportation safety significantly and provide another deterrence to opioid abuse, which will better protect the public and ultimately save lives.”

As required by the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of 1991, the DOT is harmonizing with the Department of Health and Human Services’ revised Mandatory Guidelines for Federal drug testing programs.  The DOT Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 82 FR 7771 was announced on Jan. 23, 2017, the same day as HHS announced its revisions to the Mandatory Guidelines, 82 FR 7920.

Consequently, DOT-regulated employers will be required to test for these highly abused opioids beginning on January 1, 2018.

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