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USDOT approves oral fluid drug testing to help combat shy bladder, employee cheating on urine tests

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The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has issued a Final Rule that will allow companies the option of using “oral fluid,” or saliva, instead of urine when testing for drugs.

In a Notice to be published in the Federal Register on May 2, 2023, the U.S. DOT announced it will amend current federal regulations to allow companies to use oral fluid drug testing as an alternative to urine testing. The new ruling would not forbid urine testing, but would allow employers to make the choice between the two sample collection methods.

The Final Rule will go into effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. However, prior to any employer utilizing oral fluid drug testing, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will need to certify at least two laboratories for oral fluid testing, which officials say has not yet been done.

Officials say that “this additional methodology for drug testing will give employers a choice that will help combat employee cheating on urine drug tests and provide a less intrusive means of achieving the safety goals of the program.”

“This will give employers a choice that will help combat employee cheating on urine drug tests and provide a more economical, less intrusive means of achieving the safety goals of the program. The proposal includes other provisions to update the Department’s regulation, and to harmonize, as needed, with the new Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs using Oral Fluid established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,” officials said.

USDOT also notes that oral fluid testing could reduce costs for the transportation industry. The agency says that oral fluid testing costs about $10 to $20 less than urine testing. Officials also say that there could be significant savings of time and resources by eliminating “shy bladder” collection procedures.

“We had a tremendous number of comments from individuals who have an inability to provide a sufficient quantity of urine due to a psychological condition known as paruresis. Individuals in this group told stories of losing their careers due to an inability to produce a sufficient quantity of urine. Others said they chose not to pursue transportation safety-sensitive careers because of the requirements of urine testing. Some commenters told of aspirations of becoming commercial truck drivers or airline pilots once the perceived barrier of urine testing is removed. With the option of oral fluid testing methodology, these individuals emphasized that their marketability in the workforce would increase,” USDOT noted.

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