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3/20/2017 6:00:00 PM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Despite Mandate, Hair Testing Rule Still Months Away

Whiteside by Eric Miller/Transport Topics
A proposed rule that would allow trucking companies to conduct government-certified pre-employment drug testing using hair samples likely will not be publicly released until the end of 2017 or early 2018, according to a top official with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Despite a congressional mandate that a hair testing rule be in place by Dec. 4, 2016, Ron Flegel, chairman of SAMHSA’s drug testing advisory board, told Transport Topics that the group of scientific experts and drug lab executives still are working on ironing out concerns raised by the Department of Health and Human Services, the agency with ultimate responsibility for issuing a rule.

SAMHSA is a subagency of DHHS.

“The big thing is that we’ve put the proposal forward as far as HHS,” Flegel said. “We’ve received their comments back, and we’re working to try and resolve some of those comments. There are a number of things there that we’re looking at that we’re trying to answer, scientific and technical.”

Flegel made his comments March 21, after the first of two days of meetings by the 10-member board. The board was scheduled to meet behind closed doors for several hours on both days to discuss hair testing.

Flegel said that members of Congress have come to the agency “to talk about their concerns.”

“I think they’ve also talked to the Department of Transportation,” Flegel added.

For the first time, the board listened to a presentation by one of the trucking industry’s largest motor carriers, J.B. Hunt Transport Inc.

Hunt, which has been pushing hard for years to allow hair samples to be an alternative method to urine drug testing, was one of six large motor carriers to recently petition the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to allow hair testing until more formal guidance is authorized by HHS, and adopted by the Department of Transportation.

The other carriers to petition FMCSA were Schneider, Werner Enterprises Inc., Knight Transportation Inc., Dupre Logistics Inc. and Maverick Transportation.

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By Eric Miller
Staff Reporter

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