Last updated: November 27, 2023
It seems like we just told you that early enrollment would begin in the fall! Now, here we are with the opening day of the FMCSA Clearinghouse database fast approaching. NDASSA & the DOT held several conferences nationwide in October and November to explain the query process and answer questions. If you weren’t able to attend, you can visit the on-site learning center and get up-to-date on anything you may have missed. You can download the information if it’s more convenient.
We attended a conference and gathered some information to share.
If you already have a DOT Portal established, you need to access your Portal to register as an employer in the Clearinghouse. If you should have a DOT Number and don’t, you need to obtain one before enrolling in the Clearinghouse.
Once you’ve accessed your DOT Portal, you merely link your Portal and Clearinghouse accounts and you’re ready to designate your C/TPAs. If you’re not required to carry a USDOT Number and don’t have a DOT Portal Account, enter your contact information and company name to get started in the enrollment process.
All together, now…
Companies that hold multiple USDOT Numbers will have the capability to link all DOT Numbers to one Clearinghouse account. However, we’ll note that each DOT Number has to have its own query plan account. That is as simple as logging into the Clearinghouse and creating a query plan for each DOT number.
If you run a limited query on an employee that returns a record, that limited query can then be converted into a full query. A limited query must be run annually for every employee that is actively working in a capacity that meets the FMCSA Clearinhouse criteria at the time of the query.
Is there an app for that?
No, but the website is moble friendly. Drivers and prospects can sign a full query request consent form online.
It’s the employer’s responsibility to contact the driver to receive consent to submit a full query request. The full query must be submitted to the Clearinghouse within the 24-hour time limit. Conference-goers mentioned that this could be a potentially nightmarish situation if the driver isn’t already registered in the database. Trying to get unsophisticated individuals to register from their cell phones could be difficult as it’s a multi-step process to register.
Large companies trying to track down unregistered drivers, obtain consent, and keep track of the clock may fall short of the requirement forcing them to remove the driver from duty. The FMCSA Clearinghouse doesn’t have systems in place to generate alerts, so you may inadvertently have drivers driving when they shouldn’t, resulting in fines.
The conference hosts agreed that that matter should be addressed.
It’s suggested, albeit not required, that companies have their FMCSA covered employees register in the Clearinghouse so if a limited query is returned while the driver is on the road, they can easily pull over to provide consent for the full query from their cell phones.
Starting off on the right foot
The MRO (Medical Review Officer) and DER (Designated Employer Representative) report different aspects of refusals.
- MRO refusals include lab specimens returned as substituted or manipulated. They also report any tests in which the donor refused a second test.
- DERs are responsible for reporting collection site refusals. These instances include reporting a donor that leaves in the middle of the test and those tests in which the collector catches the test subject trying to cheat the test.
When an employee tests positive for drugs or has an alcohol test result with a concentration of .04 or greater or refuses to take that test, the information is relayed by the employer or C/TPA to the Clearinghouse. Moreover, an employer must report information pertaining to “actual knowledge” of a violation.
- Direct observation of substance use
- A traffic citation for driving a CMV under the influence
Lastly, negative return-to-duty test results or the date that the driver successfully completed return-to-duty follow-up tests are also recorded on file in the database by the employer or C/TPA.
Your C/TPA needs to be ready to begin the Clearinghouse process on January 6th. We should note here that while registering your C/TPA as your designated representative, make sure you have selected the correct company. Currently, C/TPAs can only see the company name for the companies that have selected them and have no access to contact information. This makes it difficult to confirm that the company chose the correct C/TPA.
On the move
Enabling employers to conduct a real-time nationwide search for unresolved drug and alcohol violations is a huge win for workplace safety!
There’s no doubt that the FMCSA Clearinghouse is going to impact the war on drugs in our favor. Drivers will no longer be able to skip out of the consequences that accompany drug or alcohol violations. No more will they fail to report a violation on the next job application. The Clearinghouse also eliminates the option of picking up and moving to a new state, obtaining a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) there, and starting “fresh.”
When the rehabilitation process is complete, the SAP (Substance Abuse Professional) reports it to the Clearinghouse.
USAMDT is ready to handle Clearinghouse queries and all that goes with it. As your C/TPA, we’ll handle all your DOT-regulated drug testing, have CCF changes made, and report necessary findings to the Clearinghouse in a timely manner.
Putting the lid on it
Ultimately, employees who use drugs are a safety hazard. Drivers who use drugs put everyone on the road at risk. Accidents happen in an instant. Accidents involving big rigs and passenger vehicles never end well.
You would think that they’d never take the risk. If they were thinking clearly, they probably wouldn’t. If an employee tests positive for alcohol or drug use, it’s a very serious situation. But, remember, how we, as employers, choose to handle the situation could make a difference in the steps that a person takes from that point forward.
Drugs play havoc with both body and mind. Once an addiction forms, our brain believes that it needs the substance to be whole.
Of course, nothing is farther from the truth.
No one plans to become a drug addict. You’ve seen the memes on social media speaking to the fact that a drug addict is someone’s child. Speaking kind words of encouragement may spark something deep inside them that puts them on the path of recovery.