American Trucking Associations has asked the federal Health and Human Services agency to quickly release guidelines for using hair samples in mandatory drug testing.
In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, ATA President and CEO Chris Spear Monday called for HHS’ “swift action” to “ … issue scientific and technical guidelines for hair testing as a method of detecting the use of controlled substances” … as mandated in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation or FAST Act.
“Many trucking companies are using urinalysis to meet federal requirements while also paying the additional cost to conduct hair testing,” Spear wrote.
Members of the Alliance for Driver Safety and Security or the Trucking Alliance, last October and again last month called on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to allow an exemption from current federal regulations to allow hair analysis in lieu of urine testing for pre-employment controlled substances testing of CDL holders.
The Alliance has said their data “ … demonstrate that hair analysis is a more reliable and comprehensive basis for ensuring detection of controlled substance use” and that the exemption would enable these fleets to discontinue pre-employment urine testing. The Alliance’s petitions have also stated that hair testing is more likely to cull out lifestyle drug users.
The Alliance, comprising some of the country's largest carriers, also mentioned the exemption in an open letter read at a recent Senate subcommittee hearing.
“ATA spearheaded efforts to allow carriers to use hair testing as an alternate test method to traditional urinalysis in the most recent highway bill, but to date HHS has yet to issue the necessary standards to allow those tests to go forward,” ATA stated in a news release about its letter.
This week, ATA noted, “ … the HHS agency responsible for developing those standards, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), holds its Drug Testing Advisory Board meetings to consider hair testing, putting HHS well behind its congressionally mandated deadline.”
Currently SAMHSA only recongizes urinalysis, "despite the inherent advantages of hair testing, which provides employers with a longer detection window and is easier to collect and harder to adulterate than urinalysis," Spear stated in the letter.
“We are frustrated,” he said, “that the previous administration failed to meet the statutory deadline and believe your leadership will finally see a resolution to this long-standing and important safety rule.”