You can do practically anything electronically these days… read the newspaper, pay your bills or even sign a legal document. Our industry has changed dramatically because of the digital revolution, and I’m sure yours has too. In our work, though, we see some industries being held back, forced to stay in the dark ages of paper records. They are employers who have to follow DOT regulations for drug and alcohol testing. But now the curtain is lifting.
The Department of Transportation just published a final rule that now allows DOT-regulated employers like trucking companies and airlines to finally use electronic ‘Chain of Custody’ forms (eCCF). This might not seem like a big deal, but whenever one of these employers conducts a drug or alcohol screen they have to document every step of the process. That means they must track the management and storage of the specimen from the moment the donor provides it, through the testing phase, and on to the reporting of the final result. The information has to be clear, complete and be reported quickly and accurately. Up until now these records have all been required to be on paper.
Non-DOT employers have been able to use the electronic forms for a few years now. When I asked our experts how much time and money they save over the old paper forms the answer was “Tons!” Without an electronic chain, an employer first has to get the paper form to the employee, and sometimes that means overnighting it. With telecommuting, work-from-home options and multi-state or even multi-national employers, the need for remote drug testing is growing. For DOT drivers, the need is even greater since they’re out on the road. Being able to send an electronic chain of custody to a driver’s smartphone or other device will save at least a day, if not more.
The eCCFs will not be required. Companies will still be allowed to stick with paper if they wish. You might ask why they would want to do that. Well, going electronic does come with some added requirements. When using the eCCFs employers must be able to guarantee adequate confidentiality and security of the electronic records. According to the DOT, that includes protecting the physical security of the records, access controls and computer security to keep the electronic data confidential. Everyone participating in the system has to have the same controls in place, which includes the laboratories and the Medical Review Officers.
The new DOT rule went into effect on April 13, 2015, but employers still have to wait. Laboratories still need to get their process approved. It could be up to a year before the option is available for all DOT companies.
Employment Background Investigations is a technology driven leader in domestic and global pre-employment background checks, drug testing, occupational health screening and I-9 compliance. We specialize in development, implementation and management of customized employment screening programs for large and multi-national clients. We are dedicated to information security. EBI is the only NAPBS Accredited background screening company in the world to hold both an ISO 27001:2005 certification for information security and an ISO 9001:2008 certification for Quality Management.
All content provided by EBI is published for the convenience of its readers and should never be deemed as legal guidance or advice. Always consult your legal counsel for specific advice on state laws and industry regulations.
Jennifer Gladstone is a news anchor and journalist with more than 20 years of experience in front of the camera. She's worked in several markets, large and small, and has performed nearly every task needed in a newsroom. As EBI’s Screening News Editor, she keeps EBI’s customers and blog subscribers up to date on the latest screening news and legislative alerts affecting companies of all sizes.