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On May 2, 2023, The Department of Transportation (DOT) published a final rule allowing employers in the transportation industry an additional option to use oral fluid testing in their drug testing program. The final rule creates significant opportunities for employers looking to lessen the chances of test tampering, lower screening costs, and provide speedy results for regulated and random drug tests, reasonable suspicion, post-accident, or return-to-duty tests.  

The final rule went into effect on June 1, 2023. However, employers opting for oral fluid testing must follow the DOT’s new summary of changes and wait for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to certify a minimum of two laboratories for oral fluid screening. It is essential that at least two laboratories are certified for DOT-related oral fluid drug screens to manage situations where a donor disputes their test results or suspects any issue testing their specimen. When confirmation testing is requested, the specimen will be sent from the primary to a secondary laboratory for a split-specimen reevaluation to reconfirm the non-negative result.  

There are multiple advantages for employers who choose oral fluid testing over traditional urine-based testing. An oral fluid test is easy to administer and can be given to an employee anytime, anywhere, drastically reducing opportunities for an employee to adulterate the test. Oral fluid testing may conveniently be used as a backup test when an individual cannot produce sufficient urine or has a shy bladder. Oral fluid testing does not require dedicated restrooms or collection facilities, leaving employees more productive time by remaining onsite for the duration of the drug test. Testing employees via oral swab also eliminates gender issues in situations requiring direct observation when the same gender collector is not available to administer the test.  

Implementing oral swab testing will drastically reduce overall screening costs by minimizing the need for collection facilities, clinics, and hospitals, especially when the reason for the DOT test is reasonable suspicion or post-accident which can often occur outside of normal business hours. The new rule will likely result in increased oral fluid collector certifications for Designated Employer Representatives (DERs) or other supervisory staff to support onsite collections for DOT-regulated employers, further creating opportunity for overall program cost reduction. In general, oral swab testing creates more of a positive testing experience for regulated staff due to a less personally intrusive test and provides greater cost efficiencies for DOT-regulated employers.  

For more information on how your organization can optimize your substance abuse screening program, please contact us.