What Information Must the DER Supply?
It’s a common question, frequently asked by Service Agents, “What information must the DER supply? It’s a familiar testing scenario relayed time and time again by students in our training classes; subjects arriving at the testing facility without the necessary testing information for the Service Agents to act on. (Service Agents include BATs, urine specimen collectors, and other companies and individuals that perform drug and alcohol testing services for employers.)
The Department of Transportation (DOT) considers regulated drug and alcohol testing programs to be “employer-driven”. In other words, the employer is required to provide all of the necessary information to their designated Service Agent in order to facilitate a smooth testing process.
To ensure effective drug and alcohol testing programs, a company will appoint a Designated Employer Representative (also known as the DER). The DER is an employee authorized by the employer to oversee and execute that company’s drug and alcohol testing programs, which includes initiating drug and alcohol testing on employees, and taking required action to remove employees who test positive from safety-sensitive duties. The DER also receives test results and other communications on behalf of the employer. Companies may not delegate or outsource the DER function to a service agent such as a collector, collection site, or Third Party Administrator.
So what information must the DER supply? The Federal Regulations (49 CFR Part 40) outline in sub-part B, paragraph 40.14, all of the information that must be supplied to the Service Agent by the DER as part of facilitating testing programs:
- The DER must provide the testing technician with the employees full name, employee ID or SSN, and the reason for the test.
- The DER must supply their current and accurate company contact information, including address, daytime and evening phone numbers, and fax numbers. (can be pre-printed on the form)
- The DER provides instruction to the testing technician whether the drug or alcohol test is to be performed as a DOT or Non-DOT test.
- In the case of a specimen collection, the DOT Agency which regulates the employee’s safety-sensitive duties should be communicated. (check mark can be pre-printed on the form)
- In the case of a specimen collection, the name and address of the laboratory and MRO contact information must be communicated (can be pre-printed on the form)
- The DER is responsible for arranging any medical evaluations in a shy lung or shy bladder situation.
- The DER is also responsible for communicating to the Service Agents their preferred method of transmitting documents to the company.
- In the case of a specimen collection, the DER must indicate if the test is to be observed or unobserved.
The regulations are very clear where the responsibility falls. It does not fall on the Service Agent to take steps to obtain this information nor is it the responsibility of the subject to relay testing information to the service agent on behalf of the DER.
There are several ways a DER can effectively convey this information to the Service Agent. Phone, fax and email are acceptable communication methods as long as these channels are secure and the information is kept private. Some DERs will send the appropriate form along with the test subject, with the some of the information pre-printed. There are no prohibitions in the regulations for any of these communication methods.
Consider the consequences when a Service Agent lacks the required testing information to perform a specimen collection or a breath alcohol test. The test will certainly be delayed while the Service Agent tracks the DER down to get it. In the case of breath alcohol testing, a delay in the testing process may result in a negative test, as alcohol leaves the body so quickly. Delays also mean lower productivity for the company’s employees, who are idle while waiting for their drug or alcohol test, and Service Agents who must spend their time tracking down the information that the DER failed to provide.
A clear agreement on the testing information the DER will supply and how it will be transmitted to the Service Agent will create a solid partnership between the company and Service Agent and ensure an efficient and smooth testing program.