Local 701 is informing you today as a follow up to one of our monthly Membership Union Meeting discussions. It was discussed at the monthly Union Meeting there have been important changes to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (F.M.C.S.A.) guidelines regarding the Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) Physicals and the direct effects these changes can have on you and your employment status. If you possess a D.O.T. card or need a CDL license as a condition of your employment make sure you read this – it could affect your job!!!!
Section 391.41(b) 5 of the guide lines covers the respiratory system and the investigation of possible respiratory issues through both observation and questioning of the candidate for certification.
The issue that has to come to light is Sleep Apnea. While this is a very treatable condition through many means, it is causing the members of Local 701 to be
placed in a position that can cost our member a great deal of time and effort to resolve in order to obtain or renew their D.O.T. card that is needed to maintain employment. By being aware of the changes – to the respiratory guidelines, the observations by the D.O.T. examiner, and the type of questions being asked of the candidate, you the member can prepare yourself for your next D.O.T. Physical Examination and have the ability to diffuse and avoid the impact these changes can have on you.
First, the Examiner will make some very simple observations. Do you fall into one of the categories below:
1) Being overweight
2) Being age 40 or over
3) Having a small upper airway
5) Smoking or alcohol use
6) Neck size in excess of 17”
These are just initial observations that the examiner is making when you walk into the exam room. If you fall into any of these categories the examiner will begin asking what seem to be very innocent questions such as:
1) Do you feel tired in the morning?
2) Do you ever fall asleep while driving or feel like you will?
3) Do you or Have you ever fallen asleep while watching television?
4) Do you ever feel tired in the mid-afternoon?
5) Do you have a family history of sleep disorders such as Sleep Apnea?
6) Do you snore?
YOUR answers to these types of questions can make the difference between obtaining your D.O.T. card and being referred to a specialist for further diagnostic testing. Answer the questions carefully.
If you are denied your D.O.T. card and sent for further evaluation the first thing you need to know is you SHOULD be issued a ninety (90) day temporary card. The important thing to remember is this is a temporary card issued on a one time only basis. You need to act!
You need to take action immediately to take the necessary steps to maintain compliance and insure that you receive your D.O.T. card. Failure to follow up with the appropriate medical professionals will jeopardize your ability to pass the D.O.T. Physical Examination which could and has resulted in loss of employment.
You need to immediately contact your physician and schedule an appointment for further diagnosis. You need to make your physician aware of the importance of the D.O.T. card and how your employment will be affected if you fail to satisfy the examiners request for further diagnosis. Your physician will have a very frank conversation with you regarding the criteria listed above. He may or may not refer you to a sleep specialist for further evaluation depending on his professional judgment. If you are referred to a specialist for a sleep study it is important that you act quickly to schedule and complete the study.
If you are found to indeed have the condition known as Sleep Apnea, your physician and the specialist will outline the many treatment options available to treat the condition and maintain compliance with the D.O.T.
Only after you are either cleared as not having the condition, or controlled and properly supervised by a medical professional will you be issued a D.O.T. card.
In conclusion we urge you to be aware of the questions being asked of you at your next D.O.T. Physical Examination. Be careful of your responses and most importantly, if you are referred for further evaluation, do not wait to act. Contact your Physician immediately and schedule the appointment as quickly as possible.
By being an educated Union member and being prepared, you can avoid the difficulties of further evaluation and consequences of non- compliance.