There are workers who are classified as “safety-sensitive” by the Department of Transportation (DOT). This means that their work impacts not only their own safety, but the safety of the public as well. In order to continue working, this category of workers must undergo regular physical examinations and meet their requirements. DOT physicals have clear rules that are set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Successful completion of this physical ensures that commercial drivers and other employees in the safety-sensitive category are healthy and capable of working safely.
The rather strict rules of the DOT physical give truckers the illusion that passing it can be a very difficult task. To see what is a DOT physical and how to pass it, read a list of what workers should bring to the exam and what to expect after they pass it.
Table of Contents
What you need to bring to a DOT physical
Drivers must provide a complete list of the medications they are taking, including dosages, regimen, and names of doctors. Also, to save time, drivers are advised to fill out a medical history questionnaire in advance.
To make the inspection quicker and easier, drivers with various medical problems need to have the appropriate items or documents with them. For example:
- Drivers with hearing or vision problems should bring their hearing aids or glasses and contact lenses.
- Diabetic drivers should bring blood sugar logs and the most recent hemoglobin A1C (HgAIC) test results.
- Drivers with cardiovascular disease should bring a letter from their doctor describing medical history, present medications, and an indication that they can do their jobs safely.
What the DOT physical includes
Drivers shall have a visual acuity of not less than 20/40 per eye with or without correction. They must also have a periphery in the horizontal meridian of at least 70 inches gauged on each eye.
Person should be able to perceive the so-called ‘forced whisper’ from a 5 feet distance or less with or without a hearing aid. This benchmark corresponds to a medium hearing loss in the best ear below 40 dB.
3. Blood Pressure/Pulse Rate
The examiner would look at the employee’s blood pressure and pulse for hypertension and arrhythmia.
A urinalysis should be done. This test can detect signs of underlying diseases like diabetes.
5. Physical Examination
The physical exam consist of different tests:
- General appearance.
- Eyes (glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, etc.)
- Ears (eardrum scarring, eardrum perforation, etc.)
- Throat and mouth (to look for breathing or swallowing problems)
- Heart (noises, pacemaker, extra sounds, etc.)
- Chest and lungs, not including chest exam (abnormal breathing, respiratory dysfunction, cyanosis, etc.)
- Abdominal and viscera (viscera, enlarged liver, muscle weakness)
- Vascular (carotid artery, abnormal pulse, varicose veins)
- Genito-urinary system (hernias)
- Limbs (limb dysfunction)
- Spine, other musculoskeletal organs (previous surgery, limited mobility, tenderness, etc.)
- Neurological (balance, coordination or speech disorders, ataxia, asymmetrical deep tendon reflexes).
The DOT physical can only be passed by an FMCSA-certified medical examiner. It is up to the medical examiner to adjudicate if the candidate meets requirements.
DOT Medical Examination Forms
There are some forms associated with the DOT physical. They are available online for employers and drivers to review before attending the physical.
Medical Examination Report Form (MER), MCSA-5875.
The MER contains the employee’s health history, as well as the medical examiner’s findings during the DOT physical. At Concentra®, the MER form is completed online at the center and does not have to be completed and printed in advance.
Medical Examiner’s Certificate (MEC), Form MCSA-5876
Certified drivers are issued this certificate after successful completion of the DOT exam.
Assessment of insulin-treated diabetes, form MCSA-5870
Drivers affected by insulin-treated diabetes have to complete this form with their treating physicians no more than 45 days before the Certified Medical Examiner (CME) examination. The medical examiner’s certificate cannot be issued to the driver without this form.
Passing a DOT physical examination gives drivers the right to be behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle, and this certification lasts from 3 months to 2 years, depending on the driver’s medical condition and the possibility of not passing a DOT physical examination as a result of a medical condition that prevents the driver from performing at his or her best.