Time To Upshift On Driver Wellness Programs

Jonathan A. Jacobi

We have officially entered the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) era of regulation from the Department of Transportation (DOT). Its Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has replaced SafeStat with the Safety Measurement System (SMS) to collect more data and make it more visible to the public, shippers, and insurers. The new behavior analysis and safety improvement categories (BASICs), backed by more aggressive efforts to identify carriers and drivers with poor safety performance records, have companies scrambling to cover all the bases.

And CSA is just getting started.

In remarks at the California Trucking Association’s Annual Management Conference in January, FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro noted upcoming rulemaking actions in commercial driver’s license standards, entry-level driver training, and driver physical qualifications. New sleep apnea standards seem imminent. And efforts are underway to standardize training and testing on the federal physical qualifications for those conducting physical examinations. A National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners is coming, with required electronic submission of DOT medical certificates allowing enforcement officials to crack down on previously unverifiable or forged certificates.

FMCSA is also increasing its focus on driver health and wellness. “Fitness” (one of CSA’s BASICs) already dictates standards for blood pressure, diabetes, vision, and so on. But there is increasing emphasis on wellness factors that influence those conditions, such as being overweight. In November 2010, FMCSA/DOT, along with NIOSH, sponsored its first International Conference on Commercial Driver Health and Wellness. As Ferro said in an opening address, “Keeping the driver healthy so that they can do their job is critical to safe operations but has been an area left untouched by many in the industry.” To amend that, the agency is working on a template to help carriers define the core elements of an effective driver health and wellness program. Read the rest of this article on  OH&S.