Last updated: May 29, 2023
The Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates the employers of the safety-sensitive workforce. As you can imagine, there are rules and regulations galore—all to keep the public safe while on the roads. However, infringing on them can equal penalties and fines for the business owner. For instance, every company regulated by the DOT has at least one Designated Employer Representative (DER). The DER oversees the employee drug and alcohol testing program. They adhere to the specifics of the DOT.
The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 49 Part 40 contains the Procedures for Transportation Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Programs. It defines the DER as the person responsible within the workplace for the drug and alcohol testing program. That means the DER takes immediate action when warranted. For instance, if necessary they immediately remove employees from safety-sensitive duties. They also make decisions requiring the testing process.
Breaking down the position
In addition to overseeing the drug and alcohol program within the company, they are the company liaison too. They form the relationship between the company and DOT-regulated Service Agents. This can include but isn’t limited to, collectors, BATs and STTs, laboratories, Medical Review Officers (MROs), substance abuse professionals (SAPs), and C/TPAs. The C/TPAs are the consortiums or third-party agencies that handle random drug testing.
It’s not uncommon for a company to hire someone specifically for the DER position. The title carries a lot of responsibility with it. If someone within the company carries DER as part of their job description, it’s often someone working in HR.
Overall DER responsibilities
- Being responsible for administering the Drug and Alcohol Program
- Acting as Liaison with drug and alcohol testing service agents
- Makes immediate decisions regarding the testing process—such as a case of Reasonable Suspicion
- Aware of every test administered
- Receives results of every test administered
- Carries out actions in accordance with DOT regulations regarding test every test result—positive or negative
- Removes employees from safety-sensitive duties when necessary
- Reports negative test results to the FMCSA Clearinghouse—unless this step is handled by the C/TPA
We mentioned at the top of the article that employers who fail to remain in compliance with the DOT’s rules and regulations risk penalties and fines. The DER position is an extremely important position as far as overseeing compliance is concerned. That’s because the “when and where to test employees for drugs and alcohol” process is extremely detailed.
The DER requires training so they’re certain of meeting all the requirements. Of course, they’re all outlined in the DOT regulations for drug and alcohol testing (49 CFR Part 40). Trainees learn drug testing terminology, specific modal regulations, and the DOT procedures for workplace drug and alcohol testing programs.
Required DOT drug tests
The DOT requires that all potential employees undergo a background check for any previous drug or alcohol convictions or penalties. And, then, of course, the employee must pass a pre-employment drug test before being allowed behind the wheel to start logging road time.
Other instances when the DOT requires a drug test
- Random drug testing—All employees’ names are entered into a pool. A specific number of names are drawn periodically throughout the year. The number depends on the number of employees in the company. The employees must report for a drug test within a specific amount of time after notification.
- Post Accident drug testing—Of course, anyone that is involved in an accident while on the road is subject to an immediate drug test.
- Reasonable Suspicion drug testing—After documenting the suspected activity, a supervisor can request a drug test. The employee must comply.
- Return-to-duty drug testing—Someone who has completed the process and is deemed ready to re-enter the safety-sensitive workforce must pass a drug test. A pre-determined number of random tests follow.
During training, the DER learns what to do in the case of either a positive or negative test result.
Worth the weight
Someone who is working as the DER obviously cares about the safety of everyone who is out on the road. After all, everyone wants to arrive at their destinations safely. Ensuring that those who are out there delivering the goods and providing the services that keep our nation’s industries humming along are drug-free is a big responsibility.
Thanks for what you do.