3 Key Employer Recommendations for a Successful Alcohol Testing Program

alcohol testing

How can you improve your existing alcohol testing program? Every DOT federal carrier must have one in place, but here are three key recommendations to help ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.

Breath Alcohol Testing Standard Process & Procedures

A Breath Alcohol Test (BAT) is an instant test which is not processed by the lab and does not require Medical Review Officer (MRO) processing. As the Consortium/Third-Party Administrator (C/TPA) or MRO, the collection sites are not required to forward the C/TPA an alcohol result. The C/TPA will attempt to reach out to the collection site to find out if one was performed and if so, request that they forward a copy.

We recommend creating an alcohol authorization form that identifies the donor, the reason for testing, where the site can send the bill (C/TPA), and the result. 

If the donor presents an alcohol authorization form along with a chain of custody form, it alerts a collection site to the reason the donor is at their site for testing. The chain of custody form is only used for ordering the drug test, which is lab-processed and trackable. The authorization form is used to notify the collector about administering the instant breath alcohol test, rather than relying on the donor to relay the message.

The authorization form requests that the collection site send the C/TPA a copy of the BAT result and invoice. Unfortunately, in some cases, the C/TPA is only made aware of an alcohol test when accounting has been sent a bill, which will require that they immediately request a copy before payment is made. 

alcohol testing results

However, the collection site is not required to send the result to a C/TPA or MRO.

Collection sites are required to send out the employer copy. Based on our experience with collection sites, they tend to mail them out on a weekly or monthly basis, very rarely done daily. And in some cases, they even provide the donor with both the employer and donor copy.

3 Key Recommendations to Ensure Nothing Falls Through the Cracks

Here, we detail 3 key recommendations you can follow to ensure your alcohol testing program meets all requirements.

  1. In addition to the chain of custody form (CCF or COC), give the employee/donor an alcohol authorization form that is already filled out.
    • If the Alcohol form is left blank, usually the employee/donor or collector may end up discarding the form, as it provides no instruction without completion.
    • The CCF can be used to track the sample with the lab.
    • Not all collection sites perform alcohol testing, so confirm with your C/TPA what sites are in your testing network.
  2. Notify the employee/donor that they will receive a copy of the BAT result immediately and that they are expected to return it in valid condition as proof of completion.
    • The verbal notification that they will receive a copy makes the employee/aware of what is expected and helps them remember to present the form in valid condition.
    • This expedites the employer access to the result, in the event that the site has failed to send a copy in a timely manner.
    • It is a good idea for the employer to obtain a copy for their records.
  3. Upon receiving a copy of the employee/donor BAT, forward a copy to your C/TPA for compliance statistics.
    • This allows your C/TPA to provide prompt system entry for program statistics.
    • Your C/TPA can proactively make the employer aware of any alcohol program shortfalls i.e. John Doe has been in for two days and we have not yet received his BAT result.
    • It acts as a safeguard measure if a collection site has not sent a copy to the C/TPA.
testing for alcohol

Implementing a Successful Workplace Alcohol Testing Program

These recommendations have resolved most issues we have experienced in our industry and proactively addresses the shortcomings. They can be very helpful in scenarios where the test is not getting done due to the employee/donor not relaying to the collector the test(s) required or presenting the physical authorization to them.

Our suggestions also ensure the employee/donor is aware of what the employer expects for a successful completion of the test. Also, once obtained, forwarding the result to the C/TPA aids in prompt statistics entry and prevention of program compliance catch-up situations. 

Tracking an alcohol test is different than a drug test, in which the lab can be contacted for tracking and status. The drug test is trackable using the chain of custody specimen ID# or donor ID. Whereas, the BAT process is based on checking back with a collection site if the instant non-lab-based test was completed.

A successful alcohol testing program requires a joint effort from the C/TPA and the employer. This detailed protocol implementation illustrates NMS Management Services’ efforts to ensure efficient and cost-effective program compliance that aims to circumvent the shortcomings that we are familiar with in our industry. Contact us today for more information on how to effectively implement a successful workplace alcohol testing program.

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