WASHINGTON — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has denied the Trucking Alliance’s (TA) request for hair testing results to be included in the FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.
The notice of rejection published Friday, Dec. 23, on the Federal Register.
The TA applied for the request in August, along with motor carriers Cargo Transporters, Dupré Logistics LLC, Frozen Food Express, J.B. Hunt Transport Inc., KLLM Transport Services, Knight Transportation, Maverick Transportation LLC, Schneider, Swift Transportation, US Xpress and May Trucking Co.
Hair testing is in use by employers and court systems across the continent, but it hasn’t yet been approved for controlled substance testing by the FMCSA.
TA members currently utilize hair testing in addition to urine testing.
However, regulations don’t recognize hair testing for FMCSA purposes, including compliance with testing, reporting and record keeping policies. Because of this, carriers that test hair samples must also test urine samples, adding considerable cost to the testing process.
Hair testing can detect the use of cocaine within the past 90 days, and even longer in some cases. The same goes for amphetamines and other controlled substances.
In its denial, the FMCSA said that the TA’s argument ignores the requirement that the FMCSA follow the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) mandatory guidelines for hair testing, which have not yet been finalized.
“This approach disregards an accepted standard of statutory construction, which provides that statutory text must be construed as a whole,” the FMCSA wrote.
The agency said it can’t OK the use of hair testing as an alternative to urine tests until HHS establishes federal standards for hair testing.
The HHS issued proposed Hair Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs in 2020 for public comment but
has not issued a final version.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) heralded the FMCSA’s decision.
“The Clearinghouse should not accept the results of any hair follicle testing considering the inconsistencies and inaccuracies involved,” OOIDA wrote in comments signed by President Todd Spencer. “Even under current Clearinghouse regulations, drivers are not always assured of due process. Not surprisingly, drivers have shared legitimate concerns about their employment status following false positives and other contentious results.”
Jay Grimes, OOIDA’s director of federal affairs, said that the FMCSA’s swift denial of another TA exemption request “highlights the unanswered questions and validity concerns with hair testing. Just because a small percentage of trucking companies opt to screen their drivers using hair testing does not mean the process should be used for the entire industry. OOIDA maintains our opposition to any hair testing mandate.”
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.