What is the difference between and DOT and a non-DOT physical examination?

Q:

What is the difference between a DOT and a non DOT physical?

A:

The Department of Transportation (DOT) covers regulations around safety-sensitive transportation positions. These include the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), and US Coast Guard (Department of Homeland Security) (USCG). These are all DOT regulated industries. A DOT physical examination is required for all commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers in these industries.

Industries not mentioned above can be considered as non-DOT regulated. They may also require their non-DOT employees to undergo a physical examination or medical assessment before obtaining employment. These non-DOT physicals could come under banners including work fitness assessments or fitness for duty examinations. Components of such examinations could be similar to those of DOT examinations. However, they will be administered by companies outside of DOT and they could have a variety of requirements that differ from those of a DOT physical.

DOT physical examinations

A DOT physical covers:

  • Hearing and vision tests
  • Urinalysis to check for any underlying medical conditions
  • Blood pressure and pulse checks
  • A physical examination

Non-DOT physical examinations

As mentioned, these may be carried out in non-DOT regulated industries to check that an employee is fit for work.

Work fitness assessments can be carried out by companies such as NaviSure Health. Their physical assessments cover areas such as cardiovascular fitness, posture, range of motion, strength, functional movements, manual material handling, joint stability and flexibility. They don't include areas such as hearing, vision or urinalysis, which are included in a DOT physical.

A number of companies offer pre-employment physical exams that cover many areas that are somewhat similar to a DOT physical. The exact tests depend on the nature of the work, and could include hearing and vision tests, a respiratory test, drug tests and alcohol tests, a cardiac test if a heart problem is suspected, and other tests specific to the job role.

If you are in a DOT regulated industry, your employees who operate a CMV will need to undergo a DOT physical. If you are in a non-DOT regulated industry you can explore the range of non-DOT physical examinations on offer and determine which one best fits in with your industry and business objectives.

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Written by John Hawes
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John Hawes is the CCO and co-founder at SureHire Occupational Health Testing. John graduated in 2001 from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy. As a former physical therapist, John uses his knowledge of physical therapy and interest in ergonomics and biomechanics to devise fit for work testing.

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