For agencies with safety sensitive positions that are subject to substance abuse testing, the designated employer representative (DER) has many important responsibilities.

As defined in 49 CFR Part 40, the Designated Employer Representative (DER) is an “employee authorized by the employer to take immediate action(s) 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 and evaluation processes. The DER also receives test results and other communications for the employer, consistent with the requirements of this part. Service agents cannot act as DERs.”

The DER often has other overall responsibilities and functions as well:

  • Administer the program
  • Act as the liaison with drug and alcohol testing service agents
  • Informed of every test and its result

The best practice for selecting a DER would be to select an individual who has supervisory capacity and is not a safety sensitive employee. The reasoning for this practice is to prevent the DER from the possibility of becoming randomly selected for testing because they would have prior knowledge of the test. According to 49 CFR Part 382.305 (k)(1), “Each employer shall ensure that random alcohol and controlled substances tests conducted under this part are unannounced.”

For smaller public agencies this can present a problem because there are limited employees. We encourage you to get innovative in assigning the DER responsibilities, perhaps looking at positions that are part of your governing body or a different department.

As always, contact the Loss Prevention Department with your questions/concerns.