Five FMCSA Clearinghouse Tasks that Mandated Employers Need to Do
(January 2020) By now you’ve heard that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Clearinghouse went live on January 6. All mandated employers are required to use this Clearinghouse – a real-time, electronic database – when hiring individuals with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or reporting a violation of the federal drug and alcohol testing program.
But where do you start, and how are you supposed to use the Clearinghouse? Here are five tasks all mandated employers need to do to stay compliant with this new process:
- Register: You need to have a login.gov account to register for the Clearinghouse and purchase queries. The FMCSA has created a guide to help walk you through registration and purchasing queries.
- Encourage applicants to register: Not only do employers need to register for the Clearinghouse, but individuals with a CDL do, too, especially if they are looking for a job. Why? Because they need to give consent to prospective employers to use the Clearinghouse to run a full query to see if they have any unresolved alcohol and other drug violations and to determine their eligibility to perform safety-sensitive functions. If drivers don’t have an account, they can’t give consent and, therefore, can’t get hired.
- Report required information to the Clearinghouse: While the medical review officer (MRO) will report positive drug test results, employers are required to report:
- a. Positive alcohol tests
- b. Refusals to take a drug or alcohol test
- c. Actual knowledge of drug use
- d. Negative return-to-duty tests
- e. Completion of all follow-up testing
- Annually run a limited query on all employed CDL drivers: Each year employers are required to run a limited query to see if the Clearinghouse has information about any CDL with a resolved or unresolved drug and alcohol program violation. Unlike a full query, drivers don’t have to be registered in the Clearinghouse for the limited query to be run. However, they do need to give their consent for employers to run this query. Consent can be given electronically or via paper and, if worded as such, can be given for the length of time a driver is employed by the company. The FMSCA doesn’t have required language around the consent but does have a sample consent form employers can use.
- Update workplace policy and inform employees: Your need to update your DOT policy to reflect the Clearinghouse requirements, and educate your employees of its use and their role with the Clearinghouse (i.e., to register, give consent to queries and occasionally review their information for accuracy).
As you work to check off these five tasks, know that there are other intricacies about the Clearinghouse to be aware of (e.g., reporting timeframes and query costs). The FMCSA Clearinghouse has numerous resources on its website that you can reference as you navigate the new database. Of course, if you have questions about the Clearinghouse, reach out and we can connect you with DOT experts who can help.