The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced their proposed guidelines which would allow mandatory drug testing requirements for truck drivers to be fulfilled using hair testing.
Published on September 8th, the proposed guidelines would allow for fleets to use hair testing to satisfy their pre-employment and random drug testing requirements for truck drivers. But if a fleet elects to use hair testing, they must also submit a drug test using at least one other federally approved testing medium – either urine or spit.
According to HHS, the double-testing requirement was put in place for multiple reasons.
First, “the alternate specimen is used in the event that a donor is unable to provide a sufficient amount of hair for faith-based or medical reasons, or due to an insufficient amount or length of hair.”
Second, HHS is concerned that hair testing’s accuracy may be limited by “environmental contamination, the impact of natural hair color on drug incorporation, and the effects of hygiene and cosmetic hair treatments.” This concern is shared by ethics groups, civil right organizations, and people who have ever unintentionally walked past someone smoking illegal drugs.
And third, according to HHS, because of the “limitations of hair testing,” any actions taken based on hair testing alone “may be vulnerable to legal challenge.” If a positive hair test was paired with a test that has a lower rate of false positives, a court would be more likely to believe that a positive hair test report was accurate.
Because hair testing alone cannot be used to satisfy federal requirements without also submitting a second test, the regulation that large carriers have been hoping to push through for years has effectively been neutered. And they’re not happy.
“Sadly, the positive impact this rule could have had to make both highways and truckers safer will have to wait,” said ATA president and CEO Chris Spear. “ATA will be working again with Congress to fix what HHS has failed to do – its job.”
The proposed rule is still far from final however. HHS is asking for feedback from the public on the rule, which you can provide here.