The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) abides by strict safety protocols to ensure the health of its workers and the general public. Additionally, the DOT defines these workers who may potentially impact their safety and the safety of others as “safety-sensitive.” If workers are under the category of “safety-sensitive,” they must participate in a regular DOT physical exam. These employees include train and ferry operators, pipeline workers, and airplane mechanics. The guidelines for these exams are strictly created by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) but uphold the standard DOT sets forth as a principle.

Preparing for the Exam

First, going into the exam is essential to disclose any pre-existing conditions. A person with a pre-existing condition does not automatically disqualify them but may be the basis for further examination. However, states that hinder driving ability may disqualify the person from the exam. Furthermore, the patient must also tell what medication they are taking, including dosage and prescribing doctor. When arriving at the examination site, it is essential to have an ID and the type of payment selected. After this, the patient must complete a series of paperwork, including answering whether or not they use drugs, tobacco, or have a substance dependency, before officially beginning their exam. 

Physical Examination

Once the patient is ready for their exam, basics such as their height, weight, and blood pressure will be checked. Doctors also examine vision thoroughly; the patient must have at least 20/40 vision. However, this rule includes patients who wear vision aids such as glasses or contacts. Next, hearing is checked by performing audiometry or a forced whisper test. A forced whisper test entails the patient being 5 feet for the examiner and deciphering what is being said while one ear is covered. 

The examiner will also look at general appearance and skin and analyze the condition of the heart, lungs, chest, back, and abdomen. A few examples of what the examiner is checking for are heart murmurs, extra sounds, abnormal breathing, cyanosis, enlarged liver, and muscle weakness. The examiner also looks for irregular heartbeats and high blood pressure conditions. 


For some, knowing there will be a urine test is one of the most alarming parts of a DOT exam. This raises many uncertainties about what the test is looking for. Mostly, a urinalysis is looking for underlying medical conditions. Indicators of kidney disease, such as protein in the urine, are also examined. Other disorders it searches for include diabetes and urinary tract infections. Overall, urinalysis is a relatively simple test that helps ensure the patient is in good health and up to the safety standards of the DOT.

DOT Physical Exam Near Me 

If you are a “safety-sensitive” employee, you will need a physical exam at some point. For example, commercial vehicle operators must be examined at least once a year. Soteria Screening Laboratories has been helping companies and employees maintain a safe working environment since 2001 and offers a variety of physical examinations. 

Soteria Screening is part of the eScreen Occupational Health Network (EOHN) nationwide service. EOHN helps collect test results quicker through technology-based online services. Soteria Screening offers non-DOT physical exams for general good health, sports, and employment opportunities. Soteria Screening helps ensure employees are in good health. 


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