May 28, 2015

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently published two notices of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), which may affect Department of Transportation (DOT) drug and alcohol testing programs.

The proposed rules aim to revise the current drug-testing program for federal employees, including adding tests for certain narcotics, requiring facility managers to renew credentials and creating guidelines for oral-fluid testing. Safety-sensitive employees – including pilots, mechanics, dispatchers and flight attendants – are all subject to DOT drug and alcohol testing.

NBAA is monitoring the proposal, and will keep Members informed of any developments, noted Brian Koester, NBAA project manager, operations. The DOT would have to issue its own NPRM before changing the program.

The first proposal would create oral-fluid testing guidelines, and would give federal agencies the option of using oral-fluid testing, urine testing or both when conducting mandatory drug tests.

The second proposed rule aims to revise the initial and confirmatory drug test samples and methods for urine testing, revise the cutoff for reporting a specimen as contaminated based on low pH and revise the requalification requirements for individuals serving as medical review officers.

These revisions would allow testing for prescription painkillers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, as well as amphetamine variants. Medical review officers would be required to obtain recertification every five years after their initial qualification, but would not be required to earn continuing education credits.

Review the DOT bulletin for more information on these proposals.