Here's a hair-raising tale for driver applicants who think they only have to worry about having their urine tested: Truckload carrier Gordon Trucking has begun drug-screening all driver applicants via hair samples with the stated goal of reducing new driver accidents within the first crucial months of employment.
The hair-testing, done under company authority, supplements the minimum Dept. of Transportation mandatory urine-testing requirements.
"Research has shown most accidents occur within the first 90-120 days of employment," says Scott Manthey, vp of safety & compliance for Gordon. "Once a driver makes it through that initial period, the risk of an accident drops dramatically. We feel that a urine test combined with the longer timeframe of a hair test offers one the best possible screening tools. We have concluded that this aids in selecting some of the safest and most professional drivers on the road."
The program launched back in July with Omega Laboratories, Inc. carrying out the testing and has already shown beneficial results, according to Mathey. Of the 170 drivers already screened, hair-testing has detected 10 positive candidates that would have otherwise been hired.
"Beyond the candidates who have tested positive," points out Manthey, "we also routinely have candidates dismiss themselves from orientation classes once they confirm a hair test will be conducted."
There's no hair-of-the-dog treatment for human hair that shows evidence of illegal drug use.
He advises that after a lot of research, Gordon Trucking "concluded that it was our responsibility to raise the bar for driver screening. While the spread of dual DOT urine- and hair-testing programs is encouraging, additional reforms need to be implemented as well. The proposals for a 'Drug Test Clearinghouse' should be expanded to include any drug or alcohol screen that has been medically reviewed, not just those tests mandated by the DOT.
"Additional training should also be stipulated for all Medical Review Officers and physicians involved in the screening process,"
Manthey adds. Still, he contends that “professional, responsible drivers are a carrier's best asset. Removing controlled substance abusers from the commercial motor vehicle is a critical part of improving the safety of America's highways."
According to Omega Laboratories, it operates a state-of-the art drug testing facility offering the unique capability of testing hair samples for drugs of abuse. Omega has over 6,000 clients worldwide and services businesses, government organizations and educational institutions.