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March 2019 E-mail Blast

Online Education

Many of you have recently received marketing information from an online education group.  Some of you have asked me if auditors will accept online education as a treatment/education option for an employee.  

Here are my comments:

First, DOT has been silent about online education.  Yes, it is allowed.  But I offer a few comments and suggestions.

The following statement is in the "SAP Guidelines":

“The SAP should have a working knowledge of quality programs and qualified counselors.”
DOT expects you to be familiar with a program that you refer an employee to.  My question would always be, (and I expect an auditor would also ask), “What do you know about this online module, and why do you believe that this online education is appropriate for this employee?”
My questions to you are:
  • What do you know about this online education?
  • Have you yourself actually completed the module?  Do you know its content?
  • How many hours did it take you to complete the module?
  • Does the course provide important information to an employee with a violation?
  • Do you believe the course will successfully convince the employee to never use illegal drugs again, at least while he/she works in the transportation industry?
  • Did the course include a test?  If so, was it a thoughtful test?
  • Are there safeguards that would make it difficult for someone else to complete the module rather than the employee?
  • Are there questions that you might ask the employee during your follow-up evaluation that would indicate to you that the employee actually completed the module?
  • Did the employee benefit from completing this online course?
Before you refer a DOT employee to online education, I suggest that you contact the provider and request free access to a few of the modules, so you could do your own “test drive.” Take it for spin.  Find out for yourself:  Take 3 or 4 of the courses.  Is there depth to it?  Will it be effective? 

If the provider truly believes in their product, they should eagerly let you try it out.  How can they expect you to refer an employee to something that you don’t know anything about it? 

FMCSA Clearinghouse: Sign Up Now

Last week FMCSA published a website about the upcoming Clearinghouse, which will start on January 6, 2020, at long last.  You may subscribe now to e-mail updates about the Clearinghouse. 

All SAPs are required to register on the Clearinghouse; the registration site will open next fall.  In the meantime, go here and subscribe to e-mail news and updates related to the Clearinghouse:
View FMCSA’s Frequently Asked Questions about the Clearinghouse (PDF)

This document is only 6 pages (plus a cover).  I suggest you print it, read it and learn how the SAP function for FMCSA employees will change, starting next January 6. 

Keep in mind that the Clearinghouse is only for FMCSA drivers.  None of the other 5 transportation modes will be in the Clearinghouse.  For those modes, it will be business as usual.
The Clearinghouse won’t affect SAP reports.  Even though the Clearinghouse will be in place, you will still have to prepare paper SAP reports (along with your follow-up testing plan) for FMCSA drivers.  A driver’s name and violation will remain on the Clearinghouse until an employer reports (on the Clearinghouse) that the driver’s follow-up testing plan has been completed.  As long as a driver’s name appears on the Clearinghouse, it means that the return-to-duty process has not been completed, and that no employer can hire that driver.

Reminder : SAPlist U For Your Continuing Education 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.

Visit SAPlist U:
Until next time,

Lee Mauk  | and SAPlist U
Copyright © 2019, All rights reserved.

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