The Trump administration is finalizing a proposal to require opioid testing for certain transportation workers.
The rule would affect railroad engineers, pilots, air traffic controllers, truck drivers and other employees who are subject to federal drug and alcohol testing regulations.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has stated the proposed rule is “undergoing final review.” The Department of Transportation has also ordered a study on substance abuse in the transportation sector, she added.
“Safety is the Department of Transportation’s top priority, and we are committed to working with Congress and other federal departments to combat opioid abuse,” Chao wrote.
Currently, the Department of Transportation only administers a five-panel drug test, which includes marijuana, cocaine and PCP, for safety-sensitive transportation workers.
Opioid abuse has skyrocketed throughout the country in recent years and has received significant media attention.
“We are in the midst of a prescription opioid crisis in America,” Democrats on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee wrote in a letter to Chao on Tuesday. “In 2016 alone, it is estimated that 11.8 million Americans engaged in opioid misuse.”
“Transportation workers are not immune to this crisis,” the lawmakers said.
Two maintenance workers who were struck and killed by an Amtrak train last year while working on the track tested positive for cocaine and oxycodone.
In response to the problem, the Department of Health and Human Services updated its mandatory guidelines in January for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs and allowed the Department of Transportation to add four prescription opioids to its drug-test panel: hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone and oxycodone.
The DOT then issued a notice of proposed rule making signalling that it would adopt the Health and Human Services guidelines on opioids. Comments on the proposal were due six months ago.