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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Workplace Drug Testing: HHS Guidelines Effective Date Changed to October 1, 2010

Alabama @ Work
By Tommy Eden

Posted for display in today’s Federal Register for publication tomorrow is a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Final Rule changing the effective date of the Revisions to the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs (Mandatory Guidelines) from May 1, 2010, to October 1, 2010.

The document is available at the Federal Register’s website: or can be viewed by downloading the attachment.

The purpose of the HHS Final Rule is to notify participants in Federal and federally-regulated workplace drug testing programs as soon as possible that they will not be expected to implement the revisions to the Mandatory Guidelines on May 1, 2010, so that they do not unnecessarily expend resources to comply on May 1, or risk compliance problems by prematurely implementing new provisions.

On February 4, 2010 the Department of Transportation issued Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposing to align its regulated-industry drug testing with the HHS laboratory drug testing requirements. The 60-day public comment period for the NPRM officially ended on April 5, 2010, with late filed comments considered to the extent practicable.

The DOT’s NPRM process takes some time, as does the process of deciding upon and writing the contents of a final rule. The HHS decision to change the effective date of the Mandatory Guidelines should enable the DOT to issue its final rulemaking in time to meet the October 1st date.

Common Sense Counsel: There have been many changes in the DOT regulations over the past 2 years and more to come by October 2010 with a change in cutoff level and the addition of ecstasy to the testing panel. Now is a good time to audit you entire DOT training and compliance program.

Tommy Eden is a Lee County native, an attorney with the local office of Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP and a member of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law and serves on the Board of Directors for the East Alabama SHRM Chapter. He can be contacted at or 334-246-2901. Blog at