Workplace safety is a crucial part of running a business, even if your team is in the field instead of an office space. It may actually matter more when your workers are constantly behind the wheel, navigating commercial vehicles on risky roads.
According to statistics, 523,796 large-truck accidents occurred across the US in 2021. The National Safety Council reported 5,788 fatalities in large-truck crashes in the same year. The unfortunate part is that the fatalities have increased 17% from 2020 and 47% in the last decade.
As a business owner, you should implement safety policies and training programs to avert accidents. At the same time, you must be extra cautious about hiring physically fit and healthy employees.
A Department of Transportation (DOT) physical exam sets your business on the right track from a compliance perspective. It also improves your reputation for running an ethical business.
Here is all you need to know about it as an employer:
DOT Physicals: Understanding The Components
A DOT physical exam ensures that people driving commercial vehicles are fit to operate them. Business owners require these tests as a part of the safety guidelines of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Beyond compliance, these tests show the commitment to the safety of your employees and the public.
According to Health Street, business owners should implement testing for the essential components of DOT physicals to ensure compliance with the FMCSA guidelines. These include:
A physical exam recommended by the DOT includes multiple tests to assess the overall health of a candidate before employing them. These are:
- General appearance (weight, drug/alcohol problems, tremors
- Mouth and throat (breathing and swallowing)
- Chest and lungs (breathing)
- Abdomen and internal organs (unusual masses, weakness, hernias)
- Limbs (damage, weakness)
- Vascular system (blood flow, weak pulse, varicose veins)
- Skeletal system (tenderness, limitations)
- Neurological system (balance, reflexes, speech)
The person being tested may also need to verify vaccinations such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, polio, typhoid, tetanus, and flu shots.
Good visibility is the key to road safety. Research shows that drivers with poor central visual acuity have a 46% higher probability of getting into a traffic crash than drivers with normal vision. For this reason, a DOT exam includes vision tests. Your doctor ensures that people have at least 20/40 vision with or without prescription glasses.
Although rare, hearing impairment can cause safety risks on the road. As a part of occupational health testing, these tests check a person’s ability to hear a whisper from less than five feet away with or without hearing aids.
Blood Pressure And Pulse Rate
These parameters are checked to assess any abnormalities and verify the fitness of a potential employee to sit and drive for long periods.
A urinalysis test determines underlying medical conditions or irregularities requiring immediate attention. Additionally, a DOT drug test can identify the possibility of drug or alcohol use.
Passing a DOT physical means a candidate is fit to drive a commercial vehicle. The certification may be valid for 3 months to 2 years depending upon the person’s health.
Who Should Get A DOT Physical?
Anyone driving a commercial vehicle should get a DOT physical exam to certify their fitness behind the wheel. However, there are more factors employers and potential employees need to understand in this context. The test is essential for any person who:
- Drives a vehicle with a capacity of more than 15 passengers
- Is paid to drive a vehicle with a capacity of more than 8 passengers
- Drives a commercial vehicle on the interstate with a gross weight rating/combination weight rating/ gross combination weight exceeding 10,000 pounds
- Carries hazardous material that requires a vehicle to have a placard
Disqualifying Conditions: Who Cannot Pass A DOT Physical?
Passing a DOT exam requires a person to be physically healthy and addiction-free because both factors play a significant role in driving safety. Some conditions may disqualify a person from clearing the essential tests as they impair their driving ability, specifically when it comes to heavy-duty commercial vehicles.
- Epilepsy or seizure disorders
- Some respiratory diseases
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Unstable heart conditions
- Protein in the urine (possible kidney disease)
- Vision/hearing loss that can’t be corrected
- Meniere’s disease
- Use of illegal substances
- Use of marijuana, even if prescribed
- Use of oxygen therapy
A DOT test is a part of the pre-employment compliance guidelines by the Department of Transportation. All commercial vehicle drivers should clear it, whether they are bus drivers, truck drivers, rail transit drivers, or pilots. Employers need to adhere to the testing processes and guidelines to avoid non-compliance issues.