Labor Day, a celebration of the spirit and dignity of the American worker, has been a regular fixture in the United States since the late 19th century. It became a national holiday under President Grover Cleveland, and focuses on the American worker and the progress toward making work safe and rewarding for all. One of the rules unions fought for, and earned in all states in 1949, is workers’ compensation, a form of insurance in case of employee injury on the job.
As beneficial as they are, workers’ compensation laws are notoriously complicated. And for many occupations, the conditions that workers must satisfy can be burdensome, especially when trying to complete them with a hectic work schedule. But in order to be a responsible — and protected! — employee, it’s important to comply with all regulations for your industry.
For example, the U.S. Department of Transportation requires all workers who drive as part of their professions to obtain physical exams every two years, in order to verify that the worker can complete his or her job safely. This is part of a continuing effort to reduce risk on the part of employers who must insure their employees in case of injury during work.
Motor vehicles are one of the most dangerous technologies in existence, so it makes sense that the professional driving industry is more heavily regulated. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 33,000 people died in motor vehicle accidents in 2013. However, for the individual worker, this requirement places an added burden on them in completing their jobs and fully enjoying what little free time they may have. For a driver who wants to be working during peak hours, or for a driver who cannot choose his or her schedule, it can be difficult to remain in compliance with all regulations without taking time off.
If you are required to have a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical exam to operate a commercial vehicle, here are some tips that can help save you time and get you back to work:
- Find a certified medical professional! Not all medical professionals are certified by the DOT to administer these physical exams. According to the DOT, there are only 42,930 certified medical examiners, out of a total of nearly one million physicians. All doctors at American Family Care and AFC Urgent Care locations are DOT-certified.
- Know your medical history and be well-versed on how you manage any health conditions. There are certain health conditions that could disqualify you if they are not managed properly, so be on the safe side and keep good records so you can prove you’re safe on the road.
- Schedule an appointment. These exams can take about half an hour on average, but according to Fox Business, the average walk-in spends more than 21 minutes in the waiting room. American Family Care and AFC Urgent Care locations are open 7 days a week, so it’s easy to find an appointment time that fits your schedule.
- If you have a condition or take a medication which could disqualify you from medical certification, be sure to submit your waiver well in advance. The DOT website says waiver requests could take as much as 180 days to be approved, and more if it’s not filled out correctly. Save time and stress by filling it out at least three months before you’ll need it.
- Pay attention to the expiration date on your certification, and don’t let it lapse! The amount of time your certification is valid can vary based on your medical history, and while the standard is two years, other possibilities include up to one year or a little as three months for health conditions that need to be monitored more closely. Drivers without a valid medical certification can be reported by their peers, and they and their employers could face punitive measures.
Labor laws and regulations may seem tedious at times, but they’re what keep the labor market safe and fair. Labor Day was created to celebrate the dignity of the American worker, so as we take to our grills and parties, it’s the perfect time to make sure you’re being a responsible worker and keeping your DOT physical certification up to date.