It is complex to administer the DOT-mandated drug and alcohol testing programs and to understand the relevant regulations and best practices associated with drug testing and treatment. Thus, many employers hire Third Party Administrators, or Consortium Administrators.
Employers Can Customize The Role Of C/Tpas Based On Their Needs
Consortium Third Party Administrators, or C/TPAs, have the responsibility of handling all or parts of a company’s DOT drug and alcohol testing program. DOT drug and alcohol programs can be based on whether the employer contracts out part of it to a C/TPA or keeps it in-house. (Read more about best practices for drug and alcohol programs.)
In case you are searching for Consortium Third-Party Administrator, this company can be your top choice. Nationwide Testing Association, Inc. provides pre-employment and employment alcohol and drug testing services.
A C/TPA can offer and/or coordinate an assortment of services and expertise at every phase of the DOT’s drug and alcohol screening program. You can use them for random drug tests, post-accident tests, and return-to-work tests. C/TPAs can assist in collecting urine samples and breath samples, work with a HHS-certified lab to examine the samples, make appointments with a MRO, and arrange treatment with a SAP.
Furthermore, C/TPAs can also assist employers in staying compliant with DOT regulations by providing services beyond the prescribed drug and alcohol testing processes.
MIS (Management Information Systems) reports can be prepared annually thanks to their management of recordkeeping. As part of the hiring process, C/TPAs can also coordinate pre-employment drug testing and provide prospective employees with a history of their past drug and alcohol testing.
C/TPAs cannot fulfill the role of DER (Designated Employer Representative) in the DOT drug and alcohol testing program. A company employee must fulfill the role. Besides owner operators, this prohibition does not apply to other carriers.
Qualities and Expectations of a C/TPA
There is no formal certification or qualification process for C/TPAs. Their responsibilities under 49 CFR Part 40, however, include knowing the requirements and responsibilities of employers.
In order to work in this industry, C/TPAs must learn a large number of regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which regulates safety for commercial motor vehicles and their traffic. Part 382, which expressly covers the use of controlled substances and alcohol for commercial drivers, is also included in the additional regulations.
Owner-Operators Have a Special Role to Play When it Comes to C/TPAs
DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations can be challenging for owner-operators because of their size. There are essentially two issues they face on a regular basis.
As a first step, there are aspects of the DOT’s drug and alcohol program that a single individual cannot administer impartially. For instance, the DER role cannot be fulfilled by a single person.
Secondly, administering a complex regulation such as the DOT drug and alcohol testing program can be challenging for small businesses.
For random drug testing, owners of companies must contract with a Consortium Administrator in order to ensure impartial administration. A C/TPA can also serve as a DER on behalf of the owner-operator.
Administration of the DOT drug and alcohol testing program in-house has significant overhead costs. The majority of owner-operators prefer to contract with a C/TPA rather than manage their testing programs themselves.
Requirements and Procedures Remain the Employer’s Responsibility
Even though working with a C/TPA makes administering the DOT drug and alcohol testing program easier, the employer remains liable for all the requirements related to the testing program.
It is possible for employers to face civil penalties or even be shut down if their C/TPA makes an error or is not in compliance with the regulations. An agency that is involved in a C/TPA or service agent relationship with DOT can be prohibited from working with the agency due to Public Interest Exclusions (PIE).