Senate bill asks for explanation on delay of guidelines for hair testing

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line associate editor | 9/20/2018

The Senate has passed a bill with a provision that requires Health and Human Services to issue an explanation for why hair testing guidelines for truck drivers haven’t been issued.

Senators approved the Fighting Opioid Abuse in Transportation Act, S2848, by a vote of 99-1 on Sept. 17. The bill, which also aims to address railroad drug and alcohol testing regulations, still needs to be approved by the House before it can become law.

“Today, this bill is one step closer to the president’s desk, and we are one step closer to providing much-needed assistance to those who need it the most,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who sponsored the bill, said in a statement. “I hope my colleagues in the House will consider this important piece of legislation without delay.”

The 2015 FAST Act called for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to issue scientific and technical guidelines for hair testing as a method for detecting the use of a controlled substance by Dec. 4, 2016.

Urinalysis satisfies the current drug and alcohol testing requirements for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says there is no evidence to support a change.

Many large fleets currently make their employees undergo hair and urine testing. In May, the Trucking Alliance made a push for truck drivers to be screened via hair testing.

“The Trucking Alliance has yet to demonstrate that they have experienced a reduction in crash rate since their voluntary adoption of hair testing,” the OOIDA Foundation wrote in its one-pager on the topic. “Neither have they presented evidence showing that their hair testing labs meet the rigorous standards of scientific methodology for testing or that their hair testing equipment and protocol has been consistent and unbiased.”

OOIDA also said it is concerned about false positive readings and a lack of criteria to distinguish between drug use and environmental contamination as well as limitations that come along with a person’s age, sex, race and hair types.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice has also spoken out against hair testing, calling the practice “unreliable and discriminatory.”



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