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The Crucial Role of the Designated Employer Representatives

In regards to drug and alcohol testing, a key player, often behind the scenes, is the Designated Employer Representative (DER). The DER is an employee authorized by the employer to take immediate action to remove employees from safety-sensitive duties or cause employees to be removed from these covered duties and to make required decisions in the testing evaluation processes. The DER also receives test results and other communications for the employer, consistent with requirements of CFR 49 part 40 and company policies. The DER serves as the linchpin between the testing facility and the company, ensuring that procedures align with both regulatory requirements and company policies. Let’s explore the vital responsibilities of a DER, the importance of their familiarity with regulations, and how choosing the right DER can significantly impact the success of your testing program.

Understanding the DER's Role:

The DER is the go-to person when issues or concerns arise during employee testing. From out-of-temperature specimens to breath alcohol test results above company policy, the DER is the immediate point of contact for the testing facility. Their primary responsibility is to navigate these situations in accordance with company policies and regulatory expectations, ensuring a fair and complaint resolution.

Navigating Regulatory Expectations:

Familiarity with industry regulations is paramount for a DER. Whether working in trucking, where knowledge of FMCSA and DOT testing requirements is essential, or any other regulated industry, the DER must understand the nuances of regulatory bodies. Testing facilities will offer recommendations within regulatory guidelines, but the DER must align these recommendations with company policies, which can sometimes differ.

The Delicate Balance: Company Policies vs. Regulatory Guidelines:

For instance, consider a situation where a rapid drug screening shows a preliminary positive result. While the testing facility might recommend sending it for lab confirmation, some companies have policies stating that failed rapid tests are grounds for termination without confirmation. The DER, therefore, needs to navigate these nuances and strike a delicate balance between regulatory compliance and company policy.

Availability Is Key:

Availability is a non-negotiable trait for a DER, especially in industries where work happens around the clock. Whether in-house or through a third-party administrator, the DER needs to be reachable at all times. This ensures swift decision-making in critical moments and the ability to provide guidance to testing facilities promptly.

Choosing the Right DER:

Human Resource professionals or Safety Managers are often well-suited for the role of a DER. Having a second DER listed as a backup ensures continuity, especially when the primary DER is unavailable. Careful consideration in choosing a DER is crucial, as they become the face of your company in testing-related matters.

Liability Issues:

The absence of a designated DER or their lack of familiarity with the intricacies of a drug and alcohol program can pose significant liabilities. In instances where information is shared with an unauthorized person, it may violate HIPAA, potentially leading to legal repercussions for both the company and the testing facility.

Training for Success:

For companies without a DER or where the designated employer representative may need additional training, testing facilities like The Annex Employment Testing Center offer assistance. Providing training ensures that the DER is well-versed in both regulatory expectations and company policies, reducing the risk of compliance issues.

In conclusion, the role of a Designated Employer Representative is pivotal in the success of a drug and alcohol testing program. Their ability to navigate regulatory intricacies, balance company policies, and be readily available in critical moments ensures a compliant and efficient testing process. Choosing the right DER is an investment in the integrity of your program, safeguarding both your employees and your organization.

If you have any questions or would like to explore training options for your DER, feel free to reach out. We're here to help you build a robust and effective drug and alcohol testing program.

The Annex Employment Testing Center

120 S Forest Dr, Casper WY 82609


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