Construction and Landscapers OSHA/DOT Requirements To Meet By Spring 2021

Construction and Landscapers OSHA and DOT Requirements

As we slowly come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the construction and landscaping industries are poised to start the spring season with many new safety requirements.

Safety requirements are not new to these industries as they must manage OSHA rules and, for those hauling equipment and supplies that require a commercial driver’s license (CDL), they must deal with federal Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements.

Below we cover important safety requirement deadlines and many of the OSHA and DOT regulations that construction workers and landscapers are required to meet.

 

Deadline approaches for expired CDL and medical card renewals

After nearly a year of the COVID-19 health emergency, many states that reopened their State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs) have only resumed limited operations.

As a result, many commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learners permit (CLP) holders were often unable to renew their CDLs and CLPs or provide medical certificates to their state driver licensing agencies.

Similarly, many physical exam sites were dealing with limited operations or backlogs, preventing drivers from scheduling appointments for their federally required medical card physicals.

For this reason, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented and extended a waiver that now permits, but does not require, states to extend the validity of CDLs and CLPs due for renewal since March 1, 2020. It also waives the requirement that drivers have a medical exam and certification, provided they have proof of a valid medical certification and any required medical variance issued for a period of 90 days or longer and expired on or after Dec. 1, 2020.

This deadline is quickly approaching, and many state driver licensing offices and physician facilities are still experiencing backlogs or limiting in-person visits.

It is now time to make sure employees are renewing their CDLs and medical cards, which means getting a DOT physical, especially if the medical card has been expired before Dec 1, 2020.

 

DOT drug testing program requirements

Drug and alcohol use in the construction and landscaping industries is dangerous. Companies need to create an atmosphere where there is a desire to employ staff who will keep the workplace safe.

All staff who have a commercial driver license and drive a commercial motor vehicle are required by the Department of Transportation to be in a DOT drug and alcohol testing program for pre-employment, random, post-accident, reasonable suspicion, and return-to-duty testing.

This includes:

  • If you drive a single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 26,001 lbs. or more.
  • If you drive a vehicle, such as a truck (including a pick-up) or trailer (10,001 lbs. or more), and tow a unit with a gross weight of 26,001 lbs. or more.
  • If you drive a vehicle that hauls hazardous waste of any size, weight, or amount, which requires a hazard materials placard.

Some companies have only a DOT testing program and decide to internally manage it themselves, but there are high hidden costs in doing so.

Given the complexity of the DOT’s drug and alcohol testing and record-keeping requirements, many companies hire a Drug & Alcohol Consortium Administration Services (C/TPA) to help manage their DOT and non-DOT drug testing programs.

This is where Compliance Navigation Specialists can help. Our experts ensure that all DOT rules and regulations are followed, including pre-employment testing and the implementation of random drug tests for you and your drivers. We take all the necessary steps and precautions to keep you and your drivers compliant with the DOT drug and alcohol testing requirements.

 

Managers must have reasonable suspicion training

Reasonable suspicion drug testing determinations are sometimes the most challenging aspects of a drug-free workplace program, yet can have a profound impact on safety, well-being and productivity.

With spring approaching, the rise of the opioid epidemic, ongoing issues with alcohol abuse, marijuana legalization across the nation, and changes to DOT testing regulations, managers need to refresh themselves on the requirements and the importance of documentation to keep the workplace safe.

Reasonable suspicion is described as a set of circumstances that give you reason to conduct a “fitness-for-duty” assessment of an employee based on objective observations.

Reasonable suspicion testing is used to determine that alcohol or drugs are not the cause of the observed behavior or appearance. Drug testing is a mechanism to determine if the employee has used a prohibited drug; regardless of when, or what amount.

The training includes one hour on signs and symptoms associated with drug use and one hour on signs and symptoms associated with alcohol misuse, covering the physical, behavioral, speech, and performance indicators of probable workplace misuse.

 

OSHA requirements may include audiogram, respiratory, and spirometry testing

When it comes to employment in the construction industry, there are many different types of exams and testing that may be required under OSHA rules. The most common physical exams include:

  • work fitness assessment
  • fitness-for-duty exam, and
  • pre-employment physicals

Beyond exams, there are important occupational health tests that may be required for employment under OSHA 29 CFR, which include:

  • audiometric testing, and
  • pulmonary function testing or respiratory testing

Audiometric testing is a test of a person’s ability to hear sounds and assists in monitoring an employee’s hearing over time and is OSHA required if the work environment provided by the employer meets certain guidelines.

An audiometric testing follow-up program should indicate whether the employer’s hearing conservation program is preventing hearing loss.

Annual audiograms must be provided within 1 year of the baseline test. It is important to test workers’ hearing annually to identify deterioration in their hearing ability as early as possible. This enables employers to initiate protective follow-up measures before hearing loss progresses.

A pulmonary function test or respiratory test is OSHA-mandated to determine if an employee can safely and effectively wear a respirator to protect them against breathing airborne contaminants.

For example, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than 2.3 million U.S. workers are currently exposed to crystalline silica and high levels of silica exposure found in:

  • cement/brick manufacturing
  • repair/replacement brick furnace lining
  • drilling, molding, sawing
  • removing paint
  • demolition
  • abrasive blasting
  • jack hammering
  • and more

On June 23, 2020: “medical surveillance” or silica respiratory testing became twice as strict with workers exposed to the “action level” at or above 25 micrograms for 30 or more days a year (previously, medical surveillance was enforced at the “permissible exposure limit,” at or above 50 micrograms).

Coming June 23, 2021: Obligations for engineering controls goes into effect as employers will put into place work practices to reduce and maintain employee exposure to respirable crystalline silica to or below limits.

Before your employees use a respirator or are fit-tested, they must be medically evaluated and cleared by a licensed healthcare professional using a “Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire.”

Beyond the respirator medical evaluation, a spirometry breathing test shows how well you can move air in and out of your lungs. Periodic spirometry testing can be used to detect such accelerated losses.

Under OSHA 29 CFR PFT, spirometry testing is required in conjunction with the respirator fit test under certain circumstances to measure respiratory function.

 

OSHA Required and Other Testing Services

CNS can assist with your Occupational Medicine needs, no matter the size of your company. Our goal is to keep workers safe and healthy on the job, allowing you to continue the production that keeps your business running.

Currently, we also offer Mobile Occupational Medicine Services in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Ohio, New Jersey, Maryland, and New York, and we are always expanding.

Any of our employee screening services can be administered individually or bundled together to be made more affordable.

Our knowledgeable Occupational Health Examiners are focused on providing the best patient care possible with an end goal of long-term health and wellness for workers and employers.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.


FMCSA Extends Expiring CDL and Medical Card Waiver

FMCSA has extended a temporary CDL and medical card waiver if expiring after March 1, 2020

CDL and Medical Card Waiver Extended Until May 31, 2021, Due To COVID-19

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has extended a temporary waiver that deals with expired commercial drivers licenses (CDLs) and medical cards after March 1st, 2020, due to the COVID-19 health emergency.

The extended waiver now gives drivers until September 30, 2020 to renew their commercial driver’s licenses, commercial learner’s permits and medical cards. This extension only applies to drivers whose CDL, CLP or medical card expired on or after March 1.

Additionally, drivers with an expired medical card are required to carry a paper copy of the expired medical card until it is renewed and drivers with DOT medical cards, issued for at least 90 days, that expire after March 1, 2020 may continue to operate without a new DOT physical exam.

The original temporary FMCSA waiver was set to expire June 30. However, the government recognized that state licensing facilities and medical offices performing DOT physicals may be closed or have restricted hours or staffing.

The FMCSA also issued an Enforcement Notice, explaining that it will “exercise its enforcement discretion to not take enforcement action” against drivers and motor carriers that fall under the terms of the waiver. However, we have seen some roadside enforcement still give violations out when drivers are meeting the waiver guidelines.

Compliance Navigation Specialists can help with DataQ’s, Call 888.260.9448 to talk to a specialist.

These incorrect violations can be challenged with the DataQ process and CNS can help. Our consultants are well-versed in the FMCSA rules and regulations, as well as what an officer is required to note on their report. Whether you would like our consultants to challenge one Data-Q, or review all roadside inspections monthly to report which violations are able to be challenged – we have a cost effect solution for your company.

Regarding accident reporting, each employer must notify FMCSA within 5 business days of an accident involving any driver operating under the terms of this waiver. For more information on accident reporting during the waiver, go to the FMCSA press release.

CNS collection sites and network of collection sites are open for DOT physicals and required drug and alcohol testing. Schedule a DOT physical or drug test by calling CNS today at 888.260.9448.


DOT Compliance Services

Simplify the entire physical, drug consortium and DQF process

Our complete Proactive Safety Management (PSM) program has been organized to get you through an FMCSA audit by managing your driver qualification files, drug consortium, Electronic Logging Devices (ELD), vehicle maintenance and more.

Whether you are a large trucking company that is onboarding drivers quickly or a construction outfit with multiple trucks in your fleet, you need to stay aware of FMCSA regulations.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

DOT physical exams and DOT medical cards: Common questions and issues

DOT Physical Exams | DOT Compliance | CNS

DOT physicals explained

Before a driver can get on the road, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires all drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) to pass a DOT physical exam.

A DOT physical, or CDL physical, is a test performed by a Certified Medical Examiner (CME) reviewing your general health, mental and emotional well-being and is a required by federal law for anyone driving a CMV.

DOT physicals are required to obtain a DOT medical card, which must be renewed at least every two years, showing that the driver has consistently been medically qualified to drive.

Passing a DOT physical exam ensures that CMV drivers are fully equipped to handle the physical demands of operating a commercial vehicle, such as the long driving hours, stress and exhausting schedules that go along with the job.

After passing you will receive a DOT medical card, which must be placed in the Driver Qualification File (DQF) and kept there for at least three years.

For CDL drivers, the federal medical card is temporary proof in the DQ file until a Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) is received, reflecting the newest exam. The MVR must be on file within 15 days of the exam, along with a note that you checked the NRCME database for the exam and both must be kept on file for three years.

For questions regarding driver files,
contact a DOT Compliance Specialist about Driver File Management.

What do examiners test during a DOT physical exam?

Before any testing is done, a CME must be chosen using the National Registry of CMEs online database. All examiners listed have been verified as fully qualified and having the required medical credentials  and complete knowledge of FMCSA regulations and the transportation industry.

Drivers must fill out a form—on-site or before-hand—detailing their current health, health history and a list of current medications.

Check out our industry library resources of 15 videos, 2 ebooks, industry links, and CNS In The News content.

Below are DOT physical exam requirements that are tested:

  1. Urinalysis
  2. Blood pressure/pulse rate
  3. Vision
  4. Hearing
  5. Physical exam (check body for abnormalities in over a dozen areas)

A DOT medical card is considered relevant and valid for up to 24 months, however, if the CME has concerns about the driver’s health, a medical card certificate could be issued for 3 months, 6 months, or however long they see fit to come back for their next required physical exam.

Automatic disqualifications if found during a DOT physical exam

According to federal regulation 49 CFR 391.41, there are specific medical disqualifications that will prevent the examiner from passing your DOT physical exam. These include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Vision loss (if not correctable 20/40 vision in both left or right eye)
  • Epilepsy
  • Insulin use to treat diabetes
  • If any habit-forming drugs are being taken, including narcotics and amphetamines

However, a driver can obtain an exemption for some of the automatic disqualifications.

For example, the FMCSA vision exemption program is for monocular vision and can be issued for a maximum of two years, to be renewed. To obtain this exemption, an ophthalmologist or optometrist must provide an annual medical and eye exam.

It is important to note that marijuana is still a schedule 1 drug federally. All safety-sensitive positions should not consume marijuana products or unregulated CBD oil products.

Non-CDL drivers of a CMV are not required to have a DOT drug test and many companies and drivers assume it is okay to consume marijuana in states where it is legal. However, the federal DOT health history form can cause an automatic disqualification when it comes to marijuana history.

There are two questions asking if the driver has used an illicit substance within that last two years, or if they have ever failed a drug test or been dependent on an illegal substance. Marking “yes” warrants either a federal drug test or an automatic disqualification. This can affect non-CDL drivers for construction, landscaping, local delivery, moving companies and more.

Some red flags leading to temporary disqualification include, but are not limited to:

  • Cardiovascular issues
    •  i.e. – Drivers having higher than acceptable likelihood of acute incapacitation from a cardiac event.
  • Psychological disorder
    •  i.e. – Drivers are experiencing a psychological or personality disorder (even in early stages) that can affect memory, reasoning, attention, or judgement.

What should I bring to my DOT physical exam?

In order for your DOT physical exam to go as smoothly as possible, arrive early and be prepared with any personal documents and information you might need, such as:

  • Medical Examination Report (also available on-site)
  • Driver’s license
  • DOT medical card (if applicable)
  • Medication list
  • Corrective lenses or hearing aids
  • Medical records, including recent lab results for Diabetes maintenance within the last year, cardiovascular testing results for heart conditions of any kind, and recent CPAP machine printout, if applicable

Where to get a DOT physical exam?

CNS offers DOT physical exams at our location in Lititz, PA with our Certified Medical Examiner (CME), and we also have mobile DOT physicals available in certain states.

Learn more about mobile DOT physicals
(Group volume discounts and mobile options available)

If you are a part of our Drug and Alcohol Consortium, we can assist in finding a location to obtain a DOT physical or drug test nationwide.

What to do after receiving a new DOT medical card

After receiving a DOT medical card—depending on state rules—the driver needs to take the certified document to the DMV within 15 to 30 days to update the medical expiration date or if the driver is applying for a CDL.

If we performed your DOT physical, our licensing team will attach the new medical card to your CDL license through PennDOT.

If any information on the medical card certificate in ineligible, inaccurate, or missing, the driver will receive a letter requiring the medical card to be corrected and faxed or emailed back to the DMV.

Employers must pull a Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) within 15 days of completing the certified driver physical exam. The DOT requires the medical card information at the DMV to be added to the MVR and is why an MVR must be pulled after each updated medical card.

The updated MVR is required to be placed in the driver qualification file and can be audited by the DOT. A non-CDL driver does not need an updated MVR after a new medical card is received. Instead, a copy of the medical card certificate needs to be on file for three years.

For questions about audits, contact a DOT Compliance Specialist about our DOT Audit services.


DOT Compliance Services

Simplify the entire physical, drug consortium and DQF process

Our complete Proactive Safety Management (PSM) program has been organized to get you through an FMCSA audit by managing your driver qualification files, drug consortium, Electronic Logging Devices (ELD), vehicle maintenance and more.

Whether you are a large trucking company that is onboarding drivers quickly or a construction outfit with multiple trucks in your fleet, you need to stay aware of FMCSA regulations.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.