Truck Drivers and other federal safety-sensitive employees get ready for another option for your regular drug testing. This summer, we anticipate a new rule to take effect that would change drug tests greatly. This new rule would allow for hair samples to be used to conduct drug tests. This has been in the works for quite some time now. Over six years ago, Congress required the Department of Health and Human Services to incorporate the method of drug testing.
After several years of waiting, the HHS says the rule could be incorporated into practice by midsummer.
A large part of the reason for the multi-year delay has been a few setbacks along the way. In 2020 the working rule established a precedent that required any positive hair-based tests to then require a urine test. This received a lot of slack as it showed a lack of trust from the agency in the test itself. This ultimately led to a lot of distrust in the agency.
Now a revised draft is under review in the Health and Human Services Department, after it was gone over in a meeting held last month for the Drug Testing Advisory Board from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
After it is reviewed by HHS, the bill will move to the White House Office of Management and Budget for final review.
Ron Flegel, chairman of the Drug Testing Advisory Board, acknowledged the backlash they have gotten from previous versions of the rule and said they are working to revise everything with those comments in mind.
According to the Senior Vice President of Corporate Safety, Security, and Driver Personnel at J.B. Hunt, J.B. Hunt worked significantly with HHS to help them develop the new rule. On the matter, he said “The proposal is currently being reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget. We will continue to monitor its progress and anticipate the approved HHS guidelines to be released midsummer, hopefully with our recommendations incorporated.” J.B. Hunt has already tested the hair sample test and has had good, accurate results.
The second big setback that the rule has faced has been concern over things like hair color and texture bias. This first arose as a concern about the testing technique when a lawsuit was brought against the Boston Police Department. The advisory board has released statements stating they have taken all concerns into account with their revisions.
Now we wait and see if an official announcement of the testing comes out anytime soon to show that it really will be in effect by the middle of summer.