Sleep Apnea Challenges, Regulations & Impact

Sleep Apnea Challenges, Regulations & Impact

Fotolia_62084411_XL - CopyFMCSA, the American Truck Association, and OOIDA all agree that the issue of truck drivers suffering from sleep apnea is serious and there are no simple solutions. With more than 3 million professional truck drivers, the cost of screening, diagnosis and treatment for sleep apnea could easily exceed $1 billion annually. Currently there are no formal FMCSA regulations for treating this ailment.

A recent ruling by the FMCSA requires truck drivers who have certain medical conditions to be more frequently examined by a qualified medical professional. Currently, those who hold Class A commercial drivers’ licenses (CDL’s) must have a medical examination every two years. Those who have certain medical conditions or risk factors, like high blood pressure or sleep apnea, are referred for additional treatment. The regulations require drivers to receive their examinations from a FMCSA qualified physician. The results of each exam will be documented electronically, making it readily available if the driver later suffers an accident.

A driver cannot be fired for having sleep apnea, but employers can fire an employee if they have been diagnosed and are not being treated. However, employers must make reasonable accommodations for the disability, and they can’t refuse to hire a person or fire them because of it.

The following link outlines the current FMCSA medical requirements. They continue to work with industry groups to create requirements for diagnosing and treating sleep apnea: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/faq/Medical-Requirements

One organization that helps drivers obtain free screenings and current sleep apnea information is Truckers For a Cause. They frequently attend truck shows and provide free services at the shows: http://truckersforacause.com/