FMCSA Clearinghouse – What are Employer Responsibilities?
Employers regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) with CDL drivers operating trucks and/or buses must register with the FMCSA Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse rule requires the following of employers:
• Employers must query the Clearinghouse for current and prospective employees’ drug and alcohol violations before permitting those employees to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) on public roads.
• Employers must annually query the Clearinghouse for each driver they currently employ.
What is the FMCSA Clearinghouse?
The FMCSA Clearinghouse is a government database designed to house DOT drug and alcohol testing violations of CDL drivers. This is a safety program to keep CDL drivers who might be impaired or intoxicated off our public roads.
A driver with a violation becomes prohibited from operating in a safety sensitive position until completing a return to duty process. As of May 31, 2020, there are over 18,000 drivers in prohibited status and over 15,000 have not started the return to duty process to be cleared and taken out of prohibited status. See the FMCSA Clearinghouse May 2020 Monthly Summary Report.
What Violations Require Reporting to the Clearinghouse?
Employers and Medical Review Officers (MRO) must report drug and alcohol test violations to the FMCSA Clearinghouse. The MRO reports positive drug tests and refusals to test as determined by the MRO. The employer reports all alcohol test violations along with refusals to drug test as determined by the employer. The employer also reports Actual Knowledge violations.
The Consortium/Third Party Administrator (C/TPA) is responsible for helping owner operators with their employer reporting responsibilities. The C/TPA can also help all employers with their Clearinghouse responsibilities.
What is the FMCSA Return to Duty Process?
A driver with a refusal to test or positive drug or alcohol test must be removed from a CDL driving position. For return to duty back into a CDL driving position for the current employer or a future employer the driver must:
• Have a referral from the employer to a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP)
• Initial evaluation by the SAP
• Treatment and/or education as required by the SAP
• Follow-up evaluation by the SAP with written release to return to safety sensitive position
• Return to duty drug test
• Follow up testing as required by the SAP
Once the above is completed the SAP will enter the information in the Clearinghouse database to take the driver out of a prohibited status. When hiring a driver or bringing a driver back to work, the employer must run a query in the Clearinghouse to make sure the driver is cleared off the prohibited status list.
Compliance with the FMCSA Clearinghouse
Compliance with the Clearinghouse can be complex and time consuming. Expert assistance is available from FMCSA Clearinghouse Services, Inc. This is a private company not affiliated with the DOT or FMCSA offering assistance to employer in navigating through the complex requirements of the FMCSA Clearinghouse. Affordable membership programs are available to employers for compliance services, consultation, and training.
Assistance for the FMCSA Clearinghouse is also available to Owner Operators who have responsibilities in the Clearinghouse. Owner-operators are required to utilize the services of a C/TPA for their Clearinghouse Owner-operators are required to utilize the services of a C/TPA for their Clearinghouse responsibilities. FMCSA Clearinghouse Services, Inc can be your C/TPA with a great owner operator program.