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Employers Should Know if Truck Driver Job Applicants Have Failed a Hair Test for Drug Use

In comments filed June 11 with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, the Trucking Alliance urges that the agency accept a truck driver’s previously failed hair test for drug use, to the newly established Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

Current FMCSA policy states that if an employer becomes aware of a commercial motor vehicle driver’s drug or alcohol abuse, other than the DOT urinalysis test, this constitutes an employer’s ‘actual knowledge.’ This knowledge should be reported to FMCSA, specifically, to the clearinghouse.

FMCSA explains that some examples of ‘actual knowledge’ can occur, when an employer is aware that:

1) A driver has used alcohol or controlled substances based on the employer’s direct observation of the employee, under circumstances that are different than having a reasonable suspicion,
2) Information provided by the driver’s previous employer(s),
3) A traffic citation for driving a CMV while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances or,
4) An employee’s admission of alcohol or controlled substance use.

Federal law already recognizes hair testing for DOT purposes.  In 2012, Congress authorized the Department of Transportation to recognize hair testing, in lieu of a urinalysis, for drug testing protocols. However, FMCSA is waiting on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to write the test guidelines, now almost four years overdue.

In the meantime, thousands of truck drivers pass the urine test but fail the hair test for long-term drug use, which is more accurate. So, other employers are not aware these drivers previously failed a hair test.

The Trucking Alliance believes that, as long as the testing method meets generally accepted laboratory standards, FMCSA should recognize a failed hair test as an employer’s actual knowledge, and the test results should be reported to the clearinghouse.

The comments can be viewed here