US transportation workers to face testing for prescription opioids next year

Key Points
  • Under new rules, transport workers will be tested for hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone and oxymorphone.
  • The change takes effect on Jan. 1, 2018.
  • Workers are already tested for marijuana and cocaine.
Blaine Harrington III | Reuters

Safety-sensitive transportation workers — including flight crew, air traffic controllers, truck drivers and train engineers — will be screened for several common opioid painkillers starting next year, according to a new federal rule published Monday.

Previous drug tests screened for cocaine and marijuana. The rule adds screening for hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone and oxycodone, the Department of Transportation said.

President Donald Trump last month declared the opioid crisis, which claimed the lives of 64,000 Americans last year, a public health emergency, calling it a "national shame and a human tragedy."

The broadened testing will take effect Jan. 1, 2018.

"The opioid crisis is a threat to public safety when it involves safety-sensitive employees involved in the operation of any kind of vehicle or transport," Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a release. "The ability to test for a broader range of opioids will advance transportation safety significantly and provide another deterrence to opioid abuse, which will better protect the public and ultimately save lives."

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