In light of recent reports that the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) and other transportation modes are considering suspending random drug testing requirements during the COVID-19 health crisis, the National Drug and Alcohol Screening Association (NDASA) took action last week to advocate for the critical need to preserve current testing regulations and help the nation during this time of crisis.
At a time when we are more reliant than ever on the transportation industry as a supply chain for necessary goods, it is critical for all of us to be aware of 2019 statistics showing an alarming increase in positive lab results for substance use and the terrible potential repercussions of suspending the deterrent of random drug testing.
We know that truckers and other operators regulated by the Department of Transportation have voiced concerns about both the safety of, and access to, affordable drug screening as reasons for needing to ease testing rules.
With these concerns in mind, and NDASA’s ongoing commitment to protecting the safety and business interests of our members, we are making the following recommendations for responding to the COVID-19 crisis and preserving drug-free workplaces:
1. We urge you to continue providing services while following guidelines on social distancing and maintaining safe workplaces. (The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has provided some excellent resources on this topic. Your clients need to know that they can continue to access reliable and affordable drug screening through onsite mobile services or by-appointment at your locations. We want to ease fears that lack of access to random drug screening is going to make testing cost-prohibitive for employers and individual operators.
2. Please make sure that collection and drug testing is occurring in a separate location from COVID-19 testing, which should be performed in an isolated area by a certified health professional. Inform your customers that drug screening is being conducted by professionals who are equipped to provide on-site, mobile collections where there is no need for an operator to enter a clinic environment.
3. Remember and remind your customers that urine drug testing has not been proven as an avenue for transmission of viral disease.
4. Help your clients understand that social distancing can easily be implemented and practiced with urine testing.
5. Follow DOT safety procedures for both drug and alcohol testing per 49 CFR Part 40 by using safe barrier practices, such as handwashing for both donor and collector, latex gloves, disposable tubes, and prescribed specimen handling methods.
6. Educate your employees about safety protocols and continue to monitor for updates about safety recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, OSHA, FMCSA and other agencies.
For our part, NDASA will continue to educate and monitor collection sites for added measures that ensure employee health and wellness, while also keeping our members up to date on any changes in federal regulations during the COVID-19 crisis.
We will also continue to remind the U.S. Department of Transportation and the public about the critical role professionals in the drug and alcohol testing industry play in protecting the safety of our citizens and workplaces.