What are the duties of a Designated Employer Representative (DER)?

Q:

What are the duties of a Designated Employer Representative (DER)?

A:

A Designated Employer Representative (DER) is an individual within a company who has been appointed and trained to carry out specific duties within a workplace drug and alcohol testing program.

The DER can be one or more employees within the organization, or the workplace employer. The role cannot be assigned to someone outside of the organization. For example, a Third Party Administrator (TPA) cannot act as the DER.

The DER acts within the laws of the federally regulated transportation industry under the Department of Transportation's (DOT's) guidelines for workplace drug and alcohol testing.

Duties of a DER

  • Recognize unsafe workplace situations that involve the suspected use of drugs and/or alcohol in employees in safety-sensitive positions. Situations could include suspected intoxication or an incident/accident.
  • Take appropriate, and sometimes immediate, action in these situations. This may include the decision to remove a safety-sensitive employee from duty.
  • Carry out parts of the workplace drug and alcohol testing program, or supervise the overall process.
  • Handle administrative duties within a workplace drug and alcohol testing program. These may include:
  1. Monitoring the compliance of the workplace employer with DOT's drug and alcohol testing guidelines alongside federal, state and local laws.
  2. Educating employees about workplace drug and alcohol rules and requirements.
  3. Working closely with other agents that are part of the workplace drug and alcohol testing program. These can include the Medical Review Officer (MRO), Third Party Administrators (TPAs), Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs), and laboratory personnel, among others.
  4. Making decisions throughout the drug and alcohol testing and evaluation process.
  5. Enforcing company policies on the basis of positive drug or alcohol testing results, or a refusal to test.

Although a TPA cannot act as a DER, the DER may carry some of the duties of a TPA. This is especially likely to be the case in smaller companies, where a TPA hasn't been hired.

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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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