This week, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a final rule that requires post accident testing for certain over-the-counter and prescription drugs. The Rule is effective May 6, 2013. On May 17, 2012, FRA proposed to add routine post-accident tests for certain non-controlled substances with potentially impairing side effects (77 FR 29307). As discussed in the NPRM, studies have shown a significant increase in the daily use of prescription drugs, OTC drugs, vitamins, and herbal and dietary supplements by both railroad workers and the general population. Although most prescription drugs and all OTC drugs are non-controlled substances, many commonly used ones, such as antihistamines and muscle relaxants (e.g., tramadol), carry warning labels against driving or moving heavy machinery because of their potential sedating effects. Furthermore, even prescription and OTC drugs that do not carry such warnings can have unintended side effects when taken in combination with other drugs, when not used in accordance with directions, or when a user has an unusual reaction.
The FRA established this rule for the sake of safety and the full notice can be viewed at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/