- November 12, 2018
- Posted by: Andrew D. Easler
- Category: Drug Testing News
Easler Education, through its online training platform DrugTestingCourses.com, has developed its most recent version of reasonable suspicion training in order to accommodate both DOT regulatory requirements and modern Congressional concerns over new synthetic opioids and the American opioid epidemic.
On October 24, 2018, the president signed the “Fighting Opioid Abuse in Transportation Act” into law as part of House bill H.R. 6. Among other priorities, this new law sets new deadlines for the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Transportation to act on prior Congressional requests for reports on important drug and alcohol testing amendments. Among these, Congress essentially wants to either (1) implement saliva and hair testing into federal testing programs; or (2) know why they shouldn’t.
Why the sudden urgency? In 2016 alone there were over 42,000 opioid overdose fatalities. That number is now estimated to be nearly 48,000 in 2018. President Trump has been working with Congress since his inauguration in 2016 to combat the opioid epidemic with a variety of different legislative efforts including reducing prescription dosages and limiting the use and prescription of potent synthetic opioids.
In a “special edition” announcement on November 9, 2018 the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) declared that, as a result of its 23% increase in reported employee positive drug results from 2013 to 2017 to above its 1% threshold, the FTA would be doubling the current rate of testing in its mandatory random testing pools from 25% to 50% of all of its covered employees.
As the opioid crisis grows, the DOT has worked overtime to adapt, including expanding its opioid panel in 2018 to encompass Codeine, Morphine, 6-AM (heroin), Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, Oxycodone, and Oxymorphone. The DOT now must rely more heavily on its existing safeguards for the American public including pre-employment drug testing, random testing pools, post-accident testing, and reasonable suspicion testing.
For example, in the federal regulation 49 CFR Part 382.603 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires supervisors be trained for at least 60 minutes in the signs and symptoms of controlled substance use and at least 60 minutes in the signs and symptoms of alcohol misuse. This particular regulation has been in force since 1994 and training companies have been drafting and implementing classes and materials for supervisors of employers who need to comply with this or similar legislation.
These regulations mention only “controlled substance use” and do not outline particular substances–this has the effect of giving the implementation and enforcement of this provision flexibility as the controlled substance environment in America changes and new substances come to market–including new, highly potent opioids. However, through all of this change, employers may be hard pressed to find training companies offering online, continuously updated supervisor training courses.
The reasonable suspicion training courses at DrugTestingCourses.com not only comply with the DOT regulations, but also work to improve supervisor awareness and proficiency in determinations, effectively shoring up one important safeguard in the DOT arsenal for employers who utilize the online courses which now include reasonable suspicion training for all Schedule I-V Controlled Substances currently listed by the Drug Enforcement Administration.