DOT Physical Exams:
Commercial driving is an industry operated by strict guidelines and pre-certifications, not only for individual companies and their drivers and vehicles, but for industries such as logistics, automotive engineering and healthcare. One regulation that drivers must always stay on top of is their physical health certification by the Department of Transportation. Keeping up with your initial and recurring certifications is an absolute must for employees in many industries, and commercial drivers are no exception.
Why NOVA Occupational Health?
NOVA Occupational Health Occupational Health provides commercial motor vehicle (CMV) companies and drivers/operators with experienced, and proficient physical examinations required by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Our administrative and healthcare professionals can schedule timely exams for you and your employees/coworkers that are both quick and thorough, so you can get back to work faster.
Our examinations are carried out by certified medical examiners. They are mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This ensures that your company drivers and-or coworkers meet the health requirements outlined by both the DOT and FMCSA, and are cleared by a representative of the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners.
DOT Physical Exams
The purpose of completing a DOT physical exam is to ensure that a commercial driver does not have any medical conditions or past conditions. Have they undergone surgery that could make them a potential threat to public safety? These exams consist of a series of tests and screenings designed to determine whether drivers are capable – both physically and mentally – of transporting materials over long distances. Medical examiners also look at the individual driver’s health history and current medications – both prescription and over-the-counter – that might deem them unfit for such extensive work.
Components of the Exam
Sight. Quality of sight is one of the most important physical attributes required to safely operate a commercial vehicle on public streets and roadways. During your DOT exam, several tests will be implemented to determine your quality of sight, including near and farsightedness, and the quality of your peripheral vision. Your range of motion and whether or not you are colorblind are also important components of the exam, as distinguishing between road signs and distances is vital to performing your job safely.
Hearing. Your ability to hear is another important component of long-distance driving, especially with commercial vehicles. Combined with your sight, your hearing can help alert you to traffic conditions and road safety hazards. Strange sounds can also be an indicator of mechanical issues with the vehicle, making your ability to hear extremely important when you are out on the road and concerned about public safety and vehicle repairs. It is also vital to your job that you can hear radio communications that alert you on potential changes to your route or your next pick-up / drop-off location.
Physical endurance. Although some companies do not require their drivers to handle the loading and unloading aspects of the job, you are still liable to find yourself working for a company that does. For this reason, DOT exams include a component of physical endurance to determine your range of motion and ability to lift, bend, squat, walk with materials, and extend your arms over your head during the loading / unloading process.
Mental stability and alertness. Driving for long distances can take a toll on your physical and mental well-being. When performing such tasks, it is important that you can stay alert for an extended period of time, taking note of other drivers, traffic conditions and weather conditions. Drivers must be able to stay awake and remain calm and attentive, especially on the road where problem-solving and responsible decision-making are crucial to you reaching a destination successfully. Examiners must also assess your mental well-being. Driving for long distances away from home, family and friends can start to wear on an individual, no matter how resilient or self-dependent they may be. It is therefore crucial that drivers are able and willing to work alone for extended periods of time without it impacting their ability to work and ensure proper public safety.
Vehicle operation. Although proper vehicle operation will be covered in your commercial vehicle training, the DOT exam carries a component for testing your sensory, muscle and reflex abilities, as this directly influences your ability to operate a vehicle safely. Factors such as your range of motion and muscle coordination are observed in this portion of the exam.
Ability to maintain control. Maintaining control of the vehicle at all times is an absolute must when it comes to safety and job proficiency. You must have the ability to make sound decisions to stop driving whenever you feel weariness, sleepiness or disorientation. A small portion of the DOT exam will help determine your ability to maintain control of the vehicle under certain circumstances.
What You Need for The Exam
In order to have a fast, stress-free exam, you should bring the following items with you:
- Full bladder for urine testing
- State photo ID
- Current, or expired medical card for re-certification
- Waivers or exemptions for any medical reasons
- Visual aids (glasses or contacts)
- Hearing aid (if needed)
- Healthcare documents, including medical procedures and medications in the last 5 years
- Medical releases or documentation for illnesses, conditions, and/or injuries you have been treated for
- For CPAP users, bring a log of use for 1-year and provide date of last medical examination for its use
The biggest holdup to completing your DOT exam in a timely manner is whether or not you have all of the proper documentation with you. An exam can be completed in about 25-30 minutes, provided you have all the required documents and are able to promptly provide a urine sample.
If you have, or have ever had any of the following health conditions, you will need to bring proper documentation and medical forms associated with your condition to verify your current health and ability to work. These conditions include:
- Illnesses and/or injuries in the last 5 years
- Brain/head disorders, illnesses, or injuries (including seizures, stroke, or paralysis)
- Visual or hearing impairment or disorder
- Cardiovascular disorders (heart attack, heart disease, surgery)
- High blood pressure
- Muscular disease
- Lung disease, asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis
- Kidney or liver disease, dialysis
- Digestive problems
- Diabetes or blood-sugar issues
- Depression, nervous or psychiatric disorders
- Dizziness, fainting, or changes in consciousness
- Sleep disorders, loud snoring
- Loss of limb, impairment
- Spinal issues
- Chronic pain in the lower back
- Drug or frequent alcohol use
If you have or have had any of these conditions, you must bring the specific diagnosis and a record of the date of the occurrence. You must also bring your physician’s contact information, documents noting any related limitations and a record of any current and past medications that you have been prescribed. It is extremely important that you bring all relevant documentation, especially documentation that represents that past five years.
If you are on any medication, including prescriptions or supplements, you must also bring with you the dosage, the length of time you have been taking the prescription, the date it was last renewed by your doctor, and the last date you were examined to determine your need to use it.
Let Us Help
The professionals at NOVA Occupational Health are experienced individuals who are here to help make your DOT exam as painless as possible. We will work with you so that you can get back to work quickly. We are happy to answer any questions and-or concerns you may have regarding your health and work eligibility.
Based on your specific results, our qualified medical examiners can issue a driver certification for either two years, or a limited-time certification. If you fail the exam, the examiner will either provide a temporary disqualification (based on a medical condition or a lack of documentation) or permanent disqualification. For additional questions and information, give us a call at 703-361-4357.