Employers with commercial drivers or other transportation employees should prepare to comply with a Department of Transportation (DOT) Final Rule governing DOT-mandated workplace drug and alcohol testing programs that takes effect August 25, 2008. This Rule modifies current transportation workplace drug and alcohol testing procedures to address the problem of urine specimens that have been tampered with through adulteration, substitution or dilution. Of particular significance to employers are the changes covering the direct observation of specimen collection.

The new Rule makes it mandatory for laboratories to conduct specimen validity testing on all DOT specimens to ensure that no adulterants have been added and that specimens have not been diluted or substituted. To achieve consistency, the Rule requires laboratories to follow all Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) protocols in conducting this testing, and it modifies some definitions to match DHHS regulations. The Rule also makes changes to the procedures for a Medical Review Officer's review and reporting of invalid test results and determination of a refusal to test. Additionally, in an effort to thwart manufacturers of adulterants, the Rule no longer contains tables and charts outlining the adulterants for which laboratories test.

Significantly, the new Rule requires employers to ensure that all specimen collections for return-to-duty or follow-up drug tests are conducted under direct observation. Also of significance, the observer in any directly observed collection must now require the employee to raise and lower clothing and turn around prior to the observed collection, so that the observer can see whether the employee has a prosthetic device designed to transport clean urine. The Rule also requires employers that receive a canceled test result due to an invalid specimen to ensure that recollection occurs under direct observation.

Employers that conduct DOT-mandated drug and alcohol testing should review and, as needed, revise their policies prior to August 25 to ensure compliance with the new Rule. Employers also should communicate policy changes to employees prior to that date. Additionally, employers should ensure that implementing supervisors and collectors receive training on the new procedures.