What You Need to Know About Regulatory Exams

Haley Bass

If your employees work in a highly regulated organization, like the military or government, you’re probably familiar with regulatory exams. Regulatory exams are typically required, regular, and, of course, regulated. These exams are required in order to work in specific jobs, like safety-sensitive positions in the Department of Transportation. Exams are completed on a regular basis, either annually or after an accident. And they’re highly regulated by government organizations, checking specific physical aspects to ensure employees can safely perform their jobs.

Here are some of the most common regulatory exams and physicals.

Department of Transportation Physicals (and drug & alcohol screenings)

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is the official governing body for commercial transportation, which includes agencies for aviation, railroads, highway systems, shipping and boating, pipelines, and vehicles. DOT employees in designated “safety-sensitive” roles are subject to regular DOT physicals and drug screenings. A safety-sensitive employee is someone who holds a job that can impact both their own safety and the safety of the public.

Drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) are designated as safety-sensitive employees, so federal law requires them to receive regular physical exams. Only certified DOT medical examiners are allowed to perform DOT physicals, as they’ve been trained to apply the strict regulations. A DOT physical evaluates an employee’s vision, hearing, blood pressure/pulse rate, and overall physical ability. The drug screening tests for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opioids, and phencyclidine. DOT physicals must be completed every 2 years, or less if the medical examiner needs to monitor a certain health condition.

Federal Aviation Administration Physicals

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) physicals, more casually referred to as “flight physicals,” ensure that air and space pilots are safe to fly. As there are different types of pilot licenses, there are three classes of FAA medical certificates, each with their own physical requirements and expirations. Those with a private pilot license need a third-class medical certificate, which, depending on the pilot’s age, expires every 2-5 years. Second-class medical certificates are for pilots with commercial licenses, and they expire annually, no matter the pilot’s age. Airline transport pilots need a first-class medical certificate, which expires every 6-12 months, depending on the pilot’s age.

Flight physicals can only be conducted by Aviation Medical Examiners (AMEs), physicians designated and trained by the FAA. AMEs ensure pilots are fit to fly safely, checking blood pressure, vision, hearing, mental health, and more.

Military Physicals

Periodic Health Assessments (PHAs) are annual physicals required by the military. As servicemen and women must be physically fit and medically ready to deploy at any time, PHAs look for warning signs of chronic conditions, like heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes.

Merchant Mariner physicals are required for admittance to the U.S. Coast Guard. While there’s no set expiration date, Merchant Mariner physicals are also required for grade raises if an applicate hasn’t completed the exam within three years of applying. These physicals evaluate whether the examinee is physically fit to perform necessary duties.

Public Service Physicals

Police officers and firefighters work physically demanding jobs, so it’s critical for them to stay physically fit and healthy in order to perform their jobs safely. Regular physicals, screenings, and evaluations ensure the safety of police officers and firefighters so they can ensure the safety of their communities.

Police physicals are in accordance with required local and state regulations. Firefighter physicals are in accordance with the National Fire Protection Agency 1582 Guidelines, which are developed by fire safety experts and approved by the American National Standards Institute.

Respirator Medical Evaluations

Employees who work with toxins or machines that produce a lot of dust are often required to wear respirators. A respirator is a device worn over the mouth and nose or entire face to prevent the user from inhaling dust or harmful toxins. Some respirators also supply or purify air.

Respirator physicals determine if the employee is physically able to safely wear a respirator on the job. These physicals may also include a respirator fit test, which are required for any respirators that are meant to fit tightly. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires fit testing before first use, if there are any changes to use, and annually.

Maintaining compliance with regulatory exams isn’t a hassle when you’re partnered with an effective occupational health provider. Concentra provides these regulatory physicals at most of our locations, and DOT physicals at all of our locations. As the leading medical provider within the DOT industry, Concentra requires all our physicians to be FMCSA National Registry certified so our centers will always have someone to complete DOT exams.

To maintain compliance, or learn more about any of our occupational health services, contact one of Concentra’s workforce health experts.