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June 2020: Clearinghouse? Employers Don't Have a Clue

Many of you are discovering that employers know little if anything about the Clearinghouse.  They don’t understand their responsibilities with it.  Worse yet, employers don’t know how to research the Clearinghouse website.  And even worse yet, some employers just don’t care. 
 
You’ve heard employers say they don’t have time for the Clearinghouse.  They tell a driver that they will enter information “when they have time”.  They haven’t registered their company, and some employers have even said they don’t plan to register.  Some employers think (wrongly) that there is a cost to register on the Clearinghouse, and they don’t want to spend the money. However, no one pays a fee to register on the Clearinghouse.
 
FMCSA has been touting the Clearinghouse for several years, preparing employers for January 6, 2020.  I suspect that many employers deleted the e-mails, trashed the mailings, and didn’t pay attention to the information they were being given.  Many mom-n-pop operations are not technically savvy, and rarely access websites.
 
Unfortunately, when an employer doesn’t participate, it’s the driver who gets hit with the consequences.  If the employer hasn’t entered violation information, or the employer doesn’t fill in the driver's RTD screen, the driver can’t be hired by a new employer.
 
A SAP may need to step in and help an employer register his company, and help the employer understand how to find answers to his questions.  Some of you have already done this. Good! Why do I think SAPs should do this?  Simple…Because no one else will.

Here is what you should instruct an employer to do:

 
Go to https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov

In the upper right, click on "LEARN"

Scroll down to the photos, and click on “Employers”.

1) Here are many of the answers that the employer is needing.  Under the Clearinghouse, every employer is required to:
  • Designate his C/TPA
     
  • Conduct a Limited Query on all his drivers, at least once every year
     
  • Conduct a Full Query on a driver that he intends to hire
     
  • Report a Violation (alcohol positive, alcohol refusal, "actual knowledge", and employer-determined refusals)
     
  • Report RTD Information (date of the driver’s negative return-to-duty test, and date of the final follow-up test in the SAP's follow-up testing plan)
2) In order to conduct a Query, an employer must pay $1.25 per query.  Every employer will have to purchase a Query Plan.  An employer can’t hire a driver without querying the Clearinghouse. 

3) The Employer Brochure is 4 short pages, with critical basic information.
  • Scroll down on the page, to Instructional Job Aids.  (I have no idea what that means. 😊) 
     
  • Click on "Employer."  (The employer will know whether he has (or doesn’t have) a DOT Portal). 
     
  • Here an employer (and you) will see the various screens that the employer will find when he registers his company.  (An employer cannot register his drivers.  Each driver must do that for themselves.)
     
  • And…there is no fee to be registered on the Clearinghouse.
I suggest you take a few minutes and do this now, or when you have a chance.  You will be able to help an employer if you know exactly what these screens look like.

Here are the driver screens for designating a SAP

 
Some SAPs have wanted to help a driver request them as a SAP, but they don’t know what the screens look like.  Again, in the LEARN page, click on the photo for“Drivers”.
 
Then, click on “Designate a Substance Abuse Professional”.  The driver screens are HERE.
 
There’s a series of 2 or 3 screens—scroll down—where the driver types in the name of the SAP.  While it uses the word “search”, that’s a misnomer.  The driver can’t “search” for a SAP.  The driver must know the SAP’s name, exactly as the SAP is registered in the Clearinghouse, and must know the exact spelling.  A wrong spelling will not bring up the SAP’s name.  “Olson” will not show up as “Olsen”.
 
The screen shows the violation, and the date of the violation.  In the tiny print you can read the following instruction to the driver:  “You should contact your SAP prior to designating him or her in the Clearinghouse.”  I suggest that you not Accept a driver’s request until you have had a chance to meet the driver, and you have worked out financial arrangements, payment of your SAP fees, etc.  If something doesn’t seem right, or you don’t feel safe, or if there are other uncertainties, that’s the time for you to back out, and click Reject.

SAPlist UREMINDER: SAPlist U For Your Continuing Ed Requirement

SAPlist U provides 12 hours of continuing education related to DOT's testing rules.  It is endorsed by EACC, NASW, and NBCC.  It’s online, convenient, and you can complete it at your own pace.

Go to SAPlist U Continuing Ed
Until next time,

Lee Mauk signature

Lee Mauk  |  SAPlist.com and SAPlist U
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