With strict guidelines, DOT physicals can sometimes seem overwhelming for those who drive commercially. For all employees that drive a commercial motor truck, it is imperative that they are able to classified as a federal motor carrier safety driver. To help simplify the process, here is a brief overview of what your employees should bring to the exam, and what to expect once they arrive for the exam.
Restore Health Urgent Care in Palm Bay, FL can assist with your CDL drives to ensure that they are physically sound to operate the commercial motor vehicle in the certain gross vehicle weight rating class they are licensed to drive.
If an employee is designated as “safety-sensitive” for the Department of Transportation (DOT), meaning their job can impact both their own safety and the safety of the public. The employees will be required to have a regular physical to be compliant and keep working. A DOT physical follows strict guidelines that are mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), ensuring that commercial drivers especially those that drive interstate commerce and all safety-sensitive employees are in good health to work safely and operate a vehicle safely.
How to Prepare for the DOT Physical
There are a few items that commercial drivers need to bring: a complete list of their medications, including the dosage regimen, dosages, and their doctors’ names and addresses. Another time-saving recommendation is that drivers fill out the health history questionnaire before coming to the clinic.
In order to make sure the exam runs as smoothly as possible, drivers with certain medical issues need to bring the appropriate documents or items.
● Drivers with vision or hearing problems are required to bring their eyeglasses, contacts, or hearing aids
● Drivers with diabetes must bring the most recent lab results from their Hemoglobin A1C (HgAIC) and their blood sugar logs
● Drivers suffering from heart-related issues must, at a minimum, bring a letter from their cardiologist that outlines their medical history and current medications, as well as indicating that they are safe to work.
What the DOT Physical Covers
Drivers are required to have at least 20/40 acuity in each eye with or without correction. They are also required to have at least 70” peripheral in the horizontal meridian, measured in each eye. Taking a simple eye exam can determine where your vision lies, and also be able to get to pass this portion of the DOT physical.
When going to the exam you will want to make sure to bring your corrective lenses, in order to take the exam with them.
As part of the DOT physical drivers must be able to perceive what is known as a “forced whisper.” A forced whisper is heard at a distance of 5ft or less, with or without a hearing aid. This standard equates to an average hearing loss in the better ear of less than 40 dB.
Blood pressure/pulse rate
Part of the exam will be the medical examiner checking the driver’s blood pressure and pulse to look for high blood pressure and irregular heartbeats.
A urinalysis is required as part of the DOT physical exam. The test will look for indications of underlying medical conditions such as diabetes.
The physical exam will cover a dozen different categories:
● General appearance
● Eyes (cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, etc.)
● Ears (scarring of the tympanic membrane, perforated eardrums, etc.)
● Mouth and throat (to look for problems breathing or swallowing)
● Heart (murmurs, extra sounds, pacemaker, etc.)
● Lungs and chest, not including breast examination (abnormal breathing, impaired respiratory functions, cyanosis, etc.)
● Abdomen and Viscera (enlarged liver, viscera, muscle weakness)
● Vascular (abnormal pulse, carotid, varicose veins)
● Genito-urinary (hernias)
● Extremities (limb impaired)
● Spine, other musculoskeletal (previous surgery, limitation of motion, tenderness, etc.)
● Neurological (impaired equilibrium, coordination or speech pattern, ataxia, asymmetric deep tendon reflexes)
A DOT physical can only be completed by a medical examiner who is certified by the FMCSA. It is up to the Medical Examiner to determine if a candidate meets all the requirements, and to mark the report to the best of their knowledge.
DOT Physical Forms
There are several forms associated with DOT physicals. These forms are available online so that drivers and employers can review them before a visit. They include:
The MER contains the driver’s information and health history, as well as the findings of the medical examiner during the DOT exam. At Restore Health Urgent Care, the MER can be completed online at the center and does not need to be printed and completed beforehand.
Certified drivers will receive this certificate after passing a DOT exam.
Commercial drivers with insulin-treated diabetes must have this form completed by their treating clinicians no more than 45 days prior to examination. A Medical Examiner’s Certificate can not be issued to the driver without this form.
If you are seeking additional information, you can visit www.fmcsa.dot.gov.
Who Needs a DOT Physical
The medical exam is often thought to go hand-in-hand with the CDL. Depending on whether or not you are an interstate commercial driver or an intrastate driver will decide if you are required to have a DOT physical. Also, gross vehicle weight will determine if a physical is required.
Those operating the following vehicles in interstate commerce need to have a DOT medical exam:
● Vehicles with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) or gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), or gross combination weight (GCW) or gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 10,001 pounds or more; or
● Vehicles designed to transport more than 15 people, or more than 8 people when there is direct compensation involved; or
● Vehicles transporting hazardous materials that require the vehicle to be placarded.
For intrastate drivers, it depends on what the state has adopted for the weight criterion. A number of states utilize the same 10,001-pound criterion as is found in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Other states have increased the weight limit to anywhere from 12,000 pounds up to 26,001 pounds (which does coincide with the CDL requirements). A few states also have grandfather clauses or other exemptions that may except certain individuals from the medical requirement.
For non-CDL drivers who are subject to the medical exam, the requirement is they must have a valid medical certificate (DOT med card) in their possession while driving, and their employing motor carrier must have a copy of the certificate in the driver’s qualification file.
The completed medical examination report (the “long-form”) is not required to be in the driver’s qualification file. However, the medical examiner’s certificate is required to be in the file, or (for CDL drivers) a copy of the most current driving record showing medical certification information.
Where are DOT Physicals Administered
As a leading medical provider within the DOT industry, Restore Heath Urgent Care maintains current, comprehensive knowledge of DOT regulations. We require all our physicians to be part of the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners through FMCSA-certified so our centers will always have someone to complete DOT physicals.
Talk to a Restore Health DOT expert to learn more about DOT physicals, or find a Restore Health Urgent Care center nearest you to send your employees.