DOT Adds Four Opioids to Drug Testing Requirements
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will require drug testing for four additional semi-synthetic opioids starting Jan. 1, 2018.
The four opioids are hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and oxymorphone. These drugs are also known as Oxycontin, Percodan, Percocet, Vicodin, Lortab, Norco, Dilaudid, and Exalgo.
The opioids must be tested for in addition to current requirements, which include testing for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, phencyclidine, and opiates.
If an employee tests positive for any of these drugs, including the opioids, the Medical Review Officer (MRO) will interview the employee to determine if the drugs were taken for a legitimate medical reason. Employees in this situation should provide a valid prescription to the MRO. The officer will determine whether the prescription is valid.
As of Jan. 1, employees with an initial positive drug test will have up to five days to get their prescribing physician to contact the MRO. This is the employee’s responsibility. The MRO will ask the employee’s physician if he or she would be able to safely perform their job duties while taking the prescribed medication or if the medication could be changed to one that would not pose a safety risk while on the job.
Employers must remove an employee immediately from safety-sensitive job duties if the employee receives a positive drug test. Employers must also provide the employee with a list of qualified Substance Abuse Professionals (SAP) in their area.
To return to safety-sensitive job duties, employees must complete the return-to-duty process: an evaluation from a SAP, education or treatment, and a negative return-to duty drug test. Upon returning to work, an employee is subject to follow-up testing for a year to five years, depending on the SAP’s recommendations.
DOT suggests employees who take or are being prescribed any medication to tell their physician about the nature of their work beyond their job title. This conversation should include detailed description of an employee’s job duties so the physician can prescribe the most appropriate medication or treatment.
Don’t be afraid to ask if a medication will have adverse effects that could limit the ability for you to safely do your job.