Owner Operator Compliance: Understanding the FMCSA Clearinghouse and DOT Regulations
If you’re an owner operator or employer operating in the transportation industry, it’s important to stay compliant with FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) and DOT (Department of Transportation) regulations. Compliance shouldn’t be taken lightly –failure to adhere to laws could result in hefty fines and even loss of license. To stay compliant, employers must know about FMCSA clearinghouse and DOT regulations, including 5-panel drug tests and DOT physicals. In this article, we discuss what owner operators and employers should know about staying compliant with FMCSA and DOT regulations.
1. What is FMCSA Clearinghouse?
FMCSA clearinghouse is a secure database that records drug and alcohol test results and information about commercial drivers who operate vehicles in safety-sensitive positions. Employers must report information about their drivers to the clearinghouse, such as drug and alcohol program violations. This provision is in place to prevent drivers from switching jobs and continuing to operate a commercial vehicle after failing a drug or alcohol test. Owner Operators may perform queries or they can appoint a CTPA like Workplace Screening Intelligence to perform their pre-employment and annual Clearinghouse FMCSA queries. Whether you decide to appoint Workplace Screening Intelligence or perform queries yourself, you as an owner operator must appoint a CTPA to report drug and alcohol violations including refusals.
As an owner operator, you must be registered in FMCSA Clearinghouse if you operate in safety-sensitive positions. This includes trucking, bus and other commercial vehicle operations – hazardous materials. It is important that you are compliant with FMCSA Clearinghouse if you want to keep your owner-operator status.
2. What is a 5-panel drug test?
A 5 panel drug test is a type of drug test that looks for the presence of five different illegal drugs in an individual’s system: marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, and PCP (phencyclidine). Taking a 5-panel drug test is a requirement before getting a commercial driver’s license, as per FMCSA regulations.
A 5-panel drug test does not look for alcohol in the driver’s system. However, employers can also conduct a breathalyzer test or approved saliva test to test for alcohol levels. As an employer, it is important to ensure that your drivers pass a 5-panel drug test to maintain compliance with FMCSA rules.
3. What does a DOT physical consist of?
A DOT physical exam is conducted to evaluate the physical and mental health of commercial drivers to ensure they are fit to operate commercial vehicles safely. It is a requirement for obtaining a commercial driver’s license and is conducted every two years unless you are less healthy. If so, you will be required to repeat your physical every 90 – 365 days.
During the examination, a qualified medical examiner evaluates a driver’s vision, hearing, blood pressure, urinalysis, and overall health. An examiner will also ask about medical history, including past surgeries, allergies, and medication. It is important for owner operators to ensure that their drivers are physically fit to operate commercial vehicles safely to maintain compliance with DOT regulations.
4. DOT Consortium
Owner operators must enroll in an FMCSA Compliant Consortium. The consortium will manage the random compliance of many owner operators. At Workplace Screening intelligence, the random pool is managed compliantly. When you are selected, we will schedule you at one of the many truck friendly collection sites. Once registered, we will email you an electronic passport with the location name, location address and their hours of operation.
In conclusion, as an owner operator, employer, or transportation company, it is your responsibility to stay compliant with FMCSA and DOT regulations. This means being aware of FMCSA and DOT Clearinghouse regulations, conducting 5-panel drug tests before hiring drivers, and ensuring that drivers pass a DOT physical exam. Non-compliance could lead to hefty fines and even loss of license. Businesses must strive to stay compliant to protect their employees, clients, and overall business reputation.