DISA Global Solutions hosted its third annual Day with DISA event offering insightful information on the transportation industry through a number of sessions presented by industry experts. Our very own Jae Perez, Senior Strategic Sales Executive, presented “Top 10 DOT Compliance Mistakes,” helping employers proactively remain compliant to avoid fines, fees, and audits. Each year as the transportation industry and the Department of Transportation (DOT) continue to make changes and implement new regulations, employers must stay up-to-date on the latest and greatest and implement best practices to protect their employees, company, and those on the road around them.
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Why Is Compliance So Important?
Employers in the transportation industry are required to abide by the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) regulations and standards. Regardless of the DOT agency they report to, each operates under several regulations to meet compliance according to the industry. If these standards go unmet, they could lead to hefty fines and fees, lawsuits, and in some cases, injuries and/or casualties. As these industries continue to make changes to laws and regulations, it becomes increasingly difficult for employers to keep up. Failure to maintain compliance can come in many forms, and some of the most common ones that DISA sees and the solutions to avoiding these are outlined below:
1) Failure To Review a Medical Exam and Card
Employers need to be familiar with the Medical Examiners Handbook and be aware of which drivers have skills performance evaluations, ensure that they are knowledgeable about it, and always have it on them. It’s also important to continue to coach drivers on best practices when going to take a DOT medical, including:
· Knowing their medications
· Bringing medications with them
· Be prepared to ask questions
2) Clinic/Provider Errors
Common clinic/provider errors can include using the wrong chain of custody or sending documentation to the wrong MRO, leading to serious delays in getting drivers on the road. Companies should implement standardized procedures and protocols to create consistency throughout your clinic network to perform testing in a similarly. Employers should also understand their clinics’ documentation workflow management, which can involve the use of electronic chain of custody’s, electronic DOT physicals, etc., and possibly adapt to their style not to disrupt accuracy and timeliness. It’s also important to maintain good relationships with your clinics and vendors to ensure things run smoothly.
3) Early Notification To Drivers of Required Random Testing
This incident tends to occur more often than most people might think, defeating the entire purpose of random testing by not keeping it on a “need to know” basis. Third-Party Administrator (TPA) and Medical Review Officer (MRO) services, such as those DISA provides, create an additional barrier for keeping confidential information under wraps, while also providing additional resources for maintaining compliance, including the management of clinic networks and Driver Qualification (DQ) files.
4) Mismanagement of Driver Qualification Files
Defining protocols and processes for drivers and driver managers is a fundamental concept to help maintain compliance. When combined with fail-safes for reporting and reminders of expiring documents, this will help ensure employers manage their DQ files properly and remain in compliance. Utilizing an electronic driver qualification management software offered by TPA’s such as DISA, includes pre-programmed features to help you better manage your files, keep everything all in one place, and customize to meet your company’s needs.
5) Not Having an Hours of Service Compliance Plan
A formal process can lead to success, including reviewing and auditing your logs and regularly following guidance. Additionally, consistently coaching drivers on proper form and manner, and best practices of using equipment will also lead to success. Some employers implement incentive programs to help drive and promote compliance, such as swag, gift cards, etc., which can easily be budgeted for compared to an unexpected compliance violation.
6) Negligence of the Regulations That Apply
Use subject matter experts (SMEs) to help clarify any questions you may have. A clear and concise written policy will help to ensure employees understand all rules and will prevent litigation. In the event that a lawsuit arises, fully comprehending, implementing, and communicating policies and procedures abiding by the DOT requirements can reduce the harm that negligence can inflict.
7) Failing To Conduct Reasonable Suspicion Tests Immediately
Reasonable Suspicion training is enforced by the FMCSA and backing that with a DOT-certified collector staff for both urinalysis and BAC is a commonly adopted practice by most carriers, which enhances workplace safety. Additionally, the use of non-DOT saliva kits for both drug and alcohol with a BAT confirmation for any positives have shown to keep compliance at the forefront for most companies. Efficiently and effectively communicating reasonable suspicion and drug testing programs help to maintain compliance in the workplace.
8) Putting a Non-Compliant Driver on the Road
Using a DOT-compliant driver qualification (DQ) file or application template found on the FMCSA website can help organize the process for employers, keeping them within compliance. Digitizing and automating with software wherever possible is also beneficial, such as DOT physicals and electronic DQ software available to employers through DISA.
9) Driving a CMV While Disqualified From Holding a CDL
This is often seen when employers fail to perform criminal background checks on their employees, which isn’t required by the DOT but is a best practice to avoid the issue altogether. Proper background checks and address traces are essential and crucial for success in compliance programs. Employers who implement these standards typically find better-qualified drivers. The use of annual Clearinghouse queries can help employers gain better insight and ensure safer drivers on the road.
10) Unknowingly Allowing a Driver To Operate With a Revoked CDL
Continuous driver monitoring gives employers an average monthly snapshot of the status of a driver’s license. This is a must for post-hire protocol to help maintain compliance, covering the gap that a single annual MVR leaves. Spending a little more upfront can prevent larger fines associated with being out of compliance later on. Some employers report seeing almost a 60% reduction in these incidents after about 90 days.
What Can DISA Do?
Regardless of the DOT agency you report to, DISA’s professionals are highly skilled in the transportation industry and can provide expert advice and assistance paired with our all-encompassing products and services to ensure you meet and maintain compliance. To help you create a customized program of your own, DISA offers the following suite of DOT-mandated products and services:
- Assistance with General DOT Compliance
- Drug and Alcohol Testing
- Background Screening
- Motor Vehicle Records (MVR) – Pre-Employment and Annual
- CDLIS (Commercial Drivers Licenses Information System) reports
- PSP (Pre-Employment Screening Program)
- DOT/FMCSA Type Employment and Previous Alcohol Test Verifications
- DOT Previous Employer Checks
- Physical Exams / Occupational Health Screenings
- Electronic Driver Qualification Management
- Fleet Management and Reporting
Additionally, DISA’s Transportation Compliance (DTC) professionals can assist with:
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About DISA Global Solutions
Founded in 1987, DISA is the industry-leading provider of employee screening and compliance services. Headquartered in Houston, with more than 35 offices throughout the U.S. and Canada, DISA’s comprehensive scope of services includes drug and alcohol testing, background screening, occupational health, and transportation compliance. DISA assists employers in making informed staffing decisions while building a culture of safety in their workplace.