Congress greenlights use of hair testing as an alternative

By Mark Schremmer, staff writer

A recent measure plans to allow motor carriers to use hair testing for drugs as an acceptable alternative to urine testing once the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services establishes federal standards for hair testing.

Mandated by the FAST Act, motor carriers shall be permitted "to use hair testing as an acceptable alternative to urine testing in conducting pre-employment testing for the use of a controlled substance and in conducting random testing for the use of a controlled substance if the commercial motor vehicle operator was subject to hair testing for pre-employment testing."

Allowing hair testing as an alternative has its share of opposition.

In August, a coalition of 17 labor, medical and civil rights organizations asked Congress to remove the hair-testing provision from the highway bill. The coalition said the science for hair testing is unproven.

OOIDA filed comments concerned about false positive readings; a lack of criteria to distinguish between drug use and environmental contamination; and limitations that come along with a person's age, sex, race and hair types. LL