November 2012, TruckingInfo.com - Feature
These days, transportation companies are caught between the proverbial driver shortage and their CSA BASIC scores.
According to the American Trucking Associations, the current shortfall of available drivers is expected to grow to nearly 300,000 full-time positions over the next several years. At the same time, every driver considered for hire must be carefully scrutinized to determine how well they meet the hiring motor carriers criteria.
The need to hire the best candidates quickly is a key initiative for every transportation company and a central element in achieving efficiency is performing required screening background, drug and alcohol testing, and health screening. All of these screens play an important role in the suitability of a candidate for the job and, of course, most are mandated by the Department of Transportation.
The Transportation Spotlight from the HireRight Employment Screening Benchmarking Report, however, shows that many companies use manual or outdated screening practices that slow down the hiring process, reducing the chance of finding top talent.
Here are four areas where transportation companies can significantly improve efficiency and reduce the time it takes to hire good candidates.
Speeding Employment Verifications
According to the Benchmarking Report, obtaining timely results from employment verifications is the number one screening challenge of transportation companies.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires that employers review a three-year employment history for all regulated workers. Based on HireRights experience, transportation employers that conduct employment verifications manually will suffer slow response times and possibly turn up incomplete or inaccurate information.
In addition to regulatory fines, a failure to complete a thorough previous employment verification may result in poor hires that increase a companys exposure to risk.
To speed up the process, employers can use the DAC Employment History File, which contains more than 5.7 million historical employment records from more than 2,500 motor carriers. This database contains FMCSA-compliant information about employment dates, positions held, re-hire status, and work history details. The DAC Employment History File also provides previous drug and alcohol test and accident histories.
According to the Benchmarking Report, 88% of respondents reported that their top reason for screening is to be compliant with federal and state regulatory requirements. The risks of non-compliance involve steep financial penalties. FMCSA recordkeeping fines begin at $500 per day, and the fine for knowingly falsifying a record can reach $10,000. If a motor carrier or its drivers are involved in an accident and dont have the audit trail to show compliant screening, it could result in negligent hiring claims.
In a recent trucking accident case, a commercial driver caused severe injury to a plaintiff. The driver failed to disclose previous incidences on his job application, and the employer failed to follow FMCSA regulations when hiring the trucker. The total amount awarded to the plaintiff in that case was $581,000.
The landscape of regulations governing transportation is shifting constantly. Many of the survey respondents reported that participating in industry conferences and trade shows was a good way to gain insight into regulatory changes that may impact compliance.
Transportation companies also can find screening tools and processes that automatically update according to changing regulations and guide users through required reporting and audit trails. Finding automated tools as well as authoritative legal consultation will save time, reduce risk, and avoid penalties.
Integrating Drug and Health Testing
Drug and health testing programs are overseen by the DOT, and the requirements are rigorous.
Employees mandated for testing must receive a pre-employment drug test, be subject to a three-year drug and alcohol violation history, and submit to random drug and alcohol testing throughout employment. They must also receive a health certification.
Transportation companies that dont conduct these screenings are subject to fines beginning at $500 per day for failure of recordkeeping and $5,000 for knowingly falsifying records. And now, of course, lack of compliance impacts the motor carriers public CSA rating.
To meet requirements, transportation companies must follow stringent rules for test security and privacy, employ medical review officers as gatekeepers, and employ licensed medical examiners for health examinations among many requirements. Finding an expert partner has many advantages, one of which may be the integration of background screening with drug and alcohol screening to speed hiring and reduce the chance of error.
Performing Non-Required Testing
Transportation companies literally face liability exposure at every bend in the road. DOT outlines the minimum requirements for onboarding a driver, but from a due diligence standpoint, trucking companies should be doing more than the minimum.
While the Benchmarking Report shows that a majority of companies do perform Commercial Drivers License Information System (CDLIS), Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) and criminal background checks on all employees, those that do not can benefit from the practice.
Criminal background checks may immediately identify a disqualified candidate before other costly testing is done.
Another extra check that is gaining favor among employers is the use of hair testing for drug screening. Urine is the testing method mandated for compliance with DOT regulations and is the most common testing method. In fact, the Benchmarking Report found that 97% of respondents use urine testing for drug/alcohol screening.
However, urine testing can be adulterated and has a small timeframe for detecting substances. By layering hair testing on top of other drug screening methods, a much larger timeframe for detecting illicit substances is used and it helps to prevent workers from falsifying results.
A transportation organization with an efficient screening process will be able to vet job applicants and make offers more quickly than its competitors. As a result, employers with the quickest time-to-hire will often net the highest-caliber applicants in the marketplace.
However, no organization wants to sacrifice compliance and risk mitigation to improve their time-to-hire speed. Incorporating screening best practices can significantly impact the efficiency of the entire employment program.
Steven Spencer is the vice president of transportation for HireRight, where he is responsible for the transportation business line. More information can be found at www.hireright.com, or by calling 800-400-2761.