What you need to know in the Drug Testing Industry for 2017
Written by Lucas Kibby, CleanFleet
Let’s take a look at the current state of the Drug and Alcohol Testing as we enter into 2017 and how rules, regulations, and trends can affect your company.
Drunk Driving Deaths on the Rise
In 2016, an average of 28 people a day in the U.S. were killed in DUI accidents, according to federal estimates. In 2015, our country had 10,265 people who died in alcohol-impaired crashes, an increase of nearly 300 deaths from the year prior – and 2016 could be even deadlier.
We haven’t seen these increases like this for drunk driving deaths in 50 years. However, evolving technology holds promise in reversing this trend. In-car technology is being created and could soon be made available for automakers that can measure impairment with various sensors. We could see these in fleets and possibly trucking cabs as early as 2020.
OSHA & OSHA’s Post-Accident Reporting Rule
As of August 2, 2016, Fed-OSHA increased its maximum penalty amounts by over 80%. Trump may repeal this increase because of the potential financial burden it may place on employers and due to the lack of uniformity created by many state OSHA plans’ inability to increase their penalties in a commensurate amount.
According to a news source, if Trump decides to not repeal the penalty increase rule entirety, look for him to remove the rule’s requirement that Fed-OSHA’s maximum penalties increase each year to account for inflation.
OSHA’s new post-accident reporting rule can be seen as discouraging post-accident drug and alcohol testing, which OSHA believes can deter injury reporting.
If OSHA believes an employer’s drug testing policy deters injury reporting, the penalties can be quite steep, warns the law firm of Littler Mendelson. Those penalties will increase substantially in November when they rise to as much as $12,471 per violation and as much as $124,712 if OSHA finds the employer violations are “willful.”
To avoid the penalties, at a minimum, policies should be tightened to tie post-accident testing to situations in which an employee caused or contributed to the accident and property damage is a level estimated by the employer (for example, $1,000) – or some other more narrowly tailored policy (show recent illegal drug use with oral fluids testing).
Opioid and Fentanyl Epidemic
According to the Center for Disease and Control (CDC), in 2014, more than 28,000 people died of opioid overdoses, 129 people every day as a result of drug poisoning, and 61% are pharmaceutical opioid or heroin related.
This opioid epidemic has been worsened by the national reemergence of fentanyl – a synthetic opioid which is sometimes prescribed to treat severe pain, such as in cancer patients. Fentanyl is significantly more potent that Heroin (40-50 times stronger) and carries a high risk of overdose.
Update your company’s drug testing policy to include testing for Fentanyl. A urine sample can be used to look for Fentanyl during a drug test. It can be detectable in urine for 1-2 days after use but detection times may vary based on a person’s metabolism, how much they took, and other factors. Call CleanFleet today to learn more at 503-479-6082.
DOT Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse
By a rulemaking requested by Congress, the Department of Transportation (DOT) is establishing a central database to contain all of the relevant drug and alcohol testing information for commercial drivers. Called the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, employers will be required to register their employees and report test results to the clearinghouse.
The purpose of the clearinghouse is to prevent CDL holders with positive drug and alcohol test results, refused required drug and alcohol tests, or who have undergone return-to-duty drug and alcohol rehabilitation process from job-hopping (moving to different states where the results do not follow them) – making it harder to hire these drivers and keeping the roads safer.
The final rule for the clearinghouse has already passed with full implementation set for January 2020. That is to say, the law has been written and finalized, but there will be a three-year waiting period while the database is created and give businesses time to comply with the rules. Best guess, because this rule has heavily supported by the trucking industry, we do not expect the Trump Administration to try and overturn this rule. Click here to read a complete analysis of the Clearinghouse rule.
DOT Drug Testing Rate Staying at 25% but may go up in 2018
As of Dec. 13th, the FMCSA will maintain its current 25 percent random drug testing rate of truck operators in 2017, meaning carriers will be required to randomly test 25 percent of their drivers in the calendar year.
However, for CleanFleet, our positive testing (including refusals) rate has increased over the last 3 years and the positive testing rate for 2015 is 1.45%, which is double that of the FMCSA and far above the 1% threshold.
For 2014, the FMCSA's most recent survey data available, the estimated positive usage rate for drugs in was 0.9 percent, which was the expected slight rise from the previous year but not above the 1% threshold needed to increase the random drug testing rate to 50%. However, assuming the trend continues, we may see the rate increase for 2018.
ECCF Electronic Chains of Custody
Back in April 2015, the DOT published a Final Rule allowing employers, collectors, laboratories, and MROs to use Federal eCCF. Only laboratories that are approved by HHS National Laboratory Certification Program (NLCP) can provide Federal eCCF.
Alere Toxicology Services, Clinical Reference Laboratory, Quest Diagnostics, and Labcorp are now certified to utilize eCCFs for all U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) urine workplace drug tests, following the successful of the NLCP inspection and certification process, which involves demonstrating proficiency in several areas, including data security and confidentiality.
With this approval, drug tests for each of the DOT administrations and agencies can now be processed with the same efficient eCCF that non-regulated companies have been using for over a decade by eliminating the need to utilize outdated, paper based forms.
This change impacts federal programs governing transit, aviation, pipeline, motor carriers, and others. Our CleanFleet clinics are now able to process your electronic chain of custody forms. If you are having trouble finding clinics that can handle eCCFs, come to our sites. We are one of the industry leaders that can handle eCCFs.