Last updated: January 18, 2021
Everyone involved in the transportation industry, including safety-sensitive employees subject to Part 40 in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s section of the Code of Federal Regulations, should become aware of important changes in Part 40 that take effect on January 1, 2018. Part 40 outlines appropriate procedures for drug and alcohol testing within parts of the transportation industry subject to Federal regulation.
The new regulations address the opioid crisis and provide for ways that those who work in the industry may be tested for the presence of certain substances. These changes to DOT regulations were made on November 10 to harmonize with standards put in place by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services earlier this year. DOT published these changes to notify the public in a Final Rule that appeared in the November 13 release of the Federal Register.
This post offers a brief summary of important elements. For detailed procedures, we encourage you to read those areas of the Final Rule that may apply to your individual circumstances. Also, companies with affected employees are encouraged to maintain all Part 40 regulations in paper format and make them available to employees who wish to inspect them.
How do these changes affect employees in the industry?
Beginning on January 1, 2018, employees covered under Part 40 regulations will also be subject to testing for the presence of four semi-synthetic opioids that have become commonly abused in recent years. These substances are:
These opioids are commercially branded with a variety of names, including Dilaudid®, Exalgo®, Lortab®, Norco®, OxyContin®, Percocet®, Percodan®, and Vicodin®. Please note that this is not a comprehensive list of names. Testing will no longer measure the presence of MDEA.
How do these changes affect employers and Consortium/Third Party Administrators (C/TPA)?
When these changes take effect on January 1, 2018, employers and C/TPAs will not have to send blind specimens to be analyzed by the laboratory.
How do these changes affect those responsible for collecting urine?
Changes have been made when the person being tested during a mandatory collection event has a “shy bladder.” Urine collectors will discard specimens from employees if the amount of the specimen offered during a three-hour window of the collection event is not deemed “sufficient.”
How do these changes affect the laboratories certified by HHS to perform tests?
Laboratories will analyze urine specimens so that they also determine the presence of hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone. Laboratories will no longer test for the presence of MDEA (methylenedioxyethylamphetamine). Methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) will be added as an initial test analyte.
There will also be some changes in Appendixes B & C of the reports that are provided to DOT and employers. Finally, laboratory professionals will add three more fatal flaws to the already-established list of reasons when a specimen is “rejected for testing.”
How does this affect Medical Review Officers (MRO) who examine laboratory test results?
Since several test review processes have changed, Medical Review Officers should read the revisions to Part 40 carefully to assure that they are in compliance. For example, the MRO will have the authority to conduct testing for D,L stereoisomer and THC-V. They will need to review clarifications to the meaning of “prescription” and take note of changes in the amount of time they have to inform other parties if a significant safety risk exists.
How does this affect alcohol technicians?
All service agents must subscribe to the ODAPC list-serve (https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/ListServe) to stay aware of the latest notices.