Proposed guidelines for hair drug testing

On September 10, 2020, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), HHS (Health and Human Services Department) proposed scientific and technical guidelines for the inclusion of hair specimens in its Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs. This is an early step to authorize hair specimens for regulated drug testing of Federal agencies and contractors.

A few points to note:

  • SAMHSA proposed to collect an alternate authorized drug testing specimen (urine or oral fluid) to be used when there is a positive hair drug test.
  • The guidelines proposed a shorter (1”) 100 mg hair (head only) split specimen than the current industry standard of 1.5-inch, 100 mg, single-specimen collection.
  • Proposed drug cutoffs, except for THCA (marijuana) confirmatory testing, are consistent with a majority of the workforce hair drug tests conducted in the US.
  • The agency proposed requiring specimen validity testing (SVT).
  • The proposed guidelines seek to use transparent specimen guides and containers for hair collections (in lieu of the current foil and paper envelopes).

SAMHSA accepted comments through November 9, 2020 and you can read all public comments online including comments from Quest Diagnostics.

Read the full text of the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs.
Note: These are only proposed Guidelines and hair testing is not approved for any Federally mandated drug (eg, US Department of Transportation or DOT) testing.

Benefits of hair drug testing

Hair testing, like all drug testing methodologies, helps to mitigate risk, discourage drug use on the job, and increase workplace safety. Many employers like the longer drug detection window offered by hair testing, especially for pre-employment and random screenings. Hair testing earned its name as a “lifestyle test” providing up to 90-day history of repetitive drug use. Additionally, an observed hair collection helps to reduce the likelihood of cheating or tampering by a donor.

Read our blog about hair testing in the transportation sector.

Learn more about hair drug testing from Quest on our website or contact us online.