ATTENTION – Make Changes to Your Drug Testing Panels!

In response to the opioid epidemic faced by America, the U. S. Department of Transportation (DOT) drug and alcohol testing panel is expanding to include oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone, and hydromorphone which go by brand names such as OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet and Dilaudid.  These are opiates or semi-synthetic opiates not currently “counted” as drugs of abuse on federal DOT panels.

The final rule is scheduled to go into effect January 1, 2018.

Employees affected under DOT include those who work for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Additionally, employers participating in the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation’s Drug-Free Workplace Program (DFSP) will need to make this adjustment to their programs. For drug testing rules of DFSP stipulate that drug and alcohol testing, “shall conform to the federal testing model promulgated by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.”

And finally, all employers even without directives by these authorities, should adopt this practice. Unless you have specifically negotiated to have your drug testing panel expanded to include these drugs, you probably are not testing for them.

Be reminded that expanding the panel of drugs for which you will be testing your employees should be accompanied by a verifiable fair notice to the employees.

The opioid crisis is a threat to public safety. Testing that includes these drugs of abuse will provide another deterrence to opioid abuse, which will better protect your workforce and the public and ultimately save lives.