Can a C/TPA hired as an independent safety consultant also act as a DER (Designated Employer Representative)?

Q:

Can a C/TPA hired as an independent safety consultant also act as a DER (Designated Employer Representative)?

A:

A consortium/third party administrator (C/TPA) is an external company or organization that provides services to employers to help with various aspects of their workplace drug and alcohol testing program.

They may be assigned to manage part or all of a company's drug and alcohol testing policy. Areas of responsibility may include compliance, testing and record keeping. It is an integral role for any company who places a high priority on their workplace drug and alcohol testing program.

A designated employee representative (DER) is a workplace employee who is authorized to determine when a safety-sensitive employee should be removed from duty. They are trained to recognize and take action in situations where drugs and/or alcohol may be affecting an employee in a safety-sensitive position, as defined by Federal Transportation laws.

Who can act as a DER?

Depending on the size of the organization, one or more employees may be assigned as the workplace DER, as it is often a demanding role that requires the employee to be on-call at various times. The employee(s) chosen for this role are often part of the workplace safety or human resources departments. The workplace employer may also be assigned as the DER.

As specified in Department of Transportation (DOT) rule 49 CFR part 40, the role of a DER must be assigned from within the company. Therefore, a C/TPA hired as an independent safety consultant cannot act as the DER.

Although the C/TPA cannot act as a DER, they can play a valuable role in a workplace drug and alcohol testing program. The management of a drug and alcohol testing program can be time consuming, especially within large companies. A C/TPA can help lighten the load by dealing directly with clinics, laboratories and medical review officers on behalf of the DER.

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Written by John Hawes
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John Hawes is the CCO and co-founder at SureHire Occupational Health Testing. John graduated in 2001 from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy. As a former physical therapist, John uses his knowledge of physical therapy and interest in ergonomics and biomechanics to devise fit for work testing.

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