Observed collections in DOT urine drugs testing

(Revised for readability Nov 10 2018)

Observation is either required, or not allowed, in mandated testing.

Under some circumstances, collection of urine specimens for drugs screening must be observed directly by collection personnel. Observation must be by a person of the same gender as the testing subject. This is an important factor in choosing a collection facility. See related post Selection of Specimen Collection and Testing Sites.

The employer is responsible to assure observation is done always, and only, when required.

For commercial drivers and other federal employees, observed collection is required if the DER (Designated Employer Representative) directs the collector to do so. The DER is required to have the collection observed for the following situations. Otherwise, the DER is not allowed to have the collection observed.

Observation is required WHEN:

  • for Return to Duty after completing Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) requirements following a positive test or refusual
  • for Follow-up after Return to Duty, as require by SAP
  • If ordered by the MRO ( Medical Review Officer )
    • invalid specimen reported from lab
    • dilute specimens meeting certain criteria

Irregularities during specimen collection

In the course of urine specimen collection, if the following apply, the collector must proceed with a directly observed collection

  • The collector “observes materials brought to the collection site or the employee’s conduct clearly indicates an attempt to tamper with a specimen” (see §§40.61(f)(5)(i) and 40.63(e) );
  • The temperature on the original specimen was out of range (see §40.65(b)(5) ); or
  • The original specimen appeared to have been tampered with (see §40.65(c)(1) ).

The procedures for observed collection are specified in http://www.dot.gov/odapc/dot-direct-observation-procedures.