New DOT Drug Testing Parameters Also Change Ohio Drug Free Safety Program Requirements

On November 13, 2017, the Department of Transportation (“DOT”) published a final rule modifying its drug testing parameters. The DOT rules are mainly intended for employers in the transportation and shipping industries. However, these changes also affect drug testing parameters for those non-DOT-regulated employers who participate in the Ohio Drug Free Safety Program (“DFSP”) workers’ compensation premium discount plan. This is because the DFSP requires, at a minimum, adherence to DOT testing standards. DFSP participants and DOT-regulated employers should take note that these changes become effective on January 1, 2018.

DFSP testing must be at least as stringent as the DOT cut-off levels. The new levels, effective Januryary 1, 2018, are outlined in the chart below. Employers have the option to make their testing more rigorous by adopting lower cut-off levels. In addition, employers may choose not to explicitly list the precise cut-off levels so long as it is clear that their policy “adheres to Part 40 of the DOT regulations.”

The new standards also change the number and types of drugs which are subject to testing under the familiar 5-panel test, which includes marijuana, cocaine, phencyclidine (PCP), amphetamines, and opioids. While the DFSP and the DOT allow employers to apply testing standards that are even broader than otherwise mandated under the rules, the new DOT rules will require a few changes when an employer’s drug testing policy specifically lists the sub-categories. The employer may list the sub-categories of drugs as laid out below; however, it is not a requirement that they do so:


The notice does not specifically require an employer to provide written notice to their employees about their updated DOT policies; however, it is likely best practice to do so. If you have any questions, please contact Karl Ulrich at or 937.222.2052.

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