DOT Training FAQs

Find the answers to your most frequently asked questions about DOT HazMat training from our team of experts. 

DOT Training FAQ's

What Is DOT Training?

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There are many areas in which the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and its various agencies require employees to learn relevant DOT regulations.

But the two most common categories are:

  • DOT HazMat Training: How to follow the rules for safely shipping and transporting hazardous materials by various methods in the U.S.
  • Reasonable Suspicion/Drug and Alcohol Supervisor Training: How to follow and enforce the rules that prohibit drug and alcohol use in "safety-sensitive" transportation employees.

We offer both categories of DOT Training!

Who Needs DOT Training?

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A wide range of industries are subject to DOT regulations, and their employees may need training in DOT compliance. The DOT regulates everything from Commercial Driver's License (CDL) holders to aviation personnel, public transit operators, railroad workers, pipeline employees, and maritime workers.

How Do You Get DOT Certification?

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"DOT Certification" can have many meanings, but people often use it when they talk about how to "officially" fulfill DOT training obligations.

Aside from certain FAA requirements, the DOT doesn't review or certify training programs. Instead, each employer is responsible for choosing an appropriate training program. Employer should consider the trainer's qualifications and how well the training content meets the required training needs.

What Is DOT HazMat Training?

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All hazardous materials shipments transported out of, into, or within the U.S. need to comply with the DOT's Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR).

All of the DOT's regulations are spelled out in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 49 (often shortened to 49 CFR). The regulations regarding hazardous materials (HazMat) are found in 49 CFR Chapter I, specifically:

  • 49 CFR Parts 106-107 (Procedures and/or Policies)
  • 49 CFR Part 172 (Material Designations)
  • 49 CFR Parts 173 & 178-180 (Packaging Requirements)
  • 49 CFR Parts 171 & 173-177 (Operational Rules)

DOT HazMat Training is any training program that teaches part or all of the HMR.

What is a HazMat Employer?

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According to 49 CFR 171.8, a "HazMat employer" is a person or entity who uses one or more of its employees in connection with:

  • transporting hazardous materials in commerce
  • causing hazardous materials to be shipped in commerce
  • repairing or modifying containers, drums, or packages to use in the transportation of hazardous materials

For the purposes of HazMat regulations, owner-operators of motor vehicles are considered both employers and employees.

When is DOT HazMat Training Required?

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By DOT regulation, you need to complete initial HazMat training:

  • Within 90 days of being hired as a new HazMat employee
  • Within 90 days of changing or acquiring HazMat duties
  • Within 90 days of a revised security plan being implemented (in-depth security training ONLY)

If you start performing duties before you're trained, you need to perform HazMat-related tasks under the direct supervision of a knowledgeable HazMat employee.

How Often Is DOT HazMat Training Required / How Long Is DOT HazMat Training Good?

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After initial training, you need a refresher at least once every 3 years.

What Is DOT Supervisor Training or "Reasonable Suspicion" Drug and Alcohol Training?

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DOT Supervisor Training fulfills a requirement made by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

The DOT requires drug and alcohol testing of safety-sensitive transportation employees. The FMCSA, as one of its agencies, requires relevant supervisors to learn about their responsibilities in enforcing that law. DOT Supervisor Training covers when to test employees for drugs or alcohol and how to go about it.

It's sometimes referred to as "reasonable suspicion" training because the FMCSA says employees must be tested if a trained supervisor believes you're under the influence. DOT Supervisor Training explains what qualifies as reasonable suspicion and what doesn't.

Who Needs DOT "Reasonable Suspicion" Supervisor Training?

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If you supervise commercial drivers subject to 49 CFR 40 and 382, you're required to take DOT Supervisor Training.

What drivers are subject? FMCSA drug and alcohol testing regulations impact any employee who:

  1. Holds a commercial driver's license (CDL) and
  2. Drives commercial motor vehicles (CMVs)
  3. On public roads

This includes commercial truckers, school bus drivers, and certain limousine or van drivers.

If you're an owner-operator or a motor carrier with only one CDL driver, the DOT requires you to join a consortium who will handle drug and alcohol testing for you. You are NOT allowed to manage the testing for yourself.

What Is a Safety-Sensitive DOT Employee?

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As a result of the 1991 Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act, all "safety-sensitive" transportation employees are subject to DOT drug and alcohol testing.

A safety-sensitive employee is anyone under the DOT's jurisdiction who could pose a direct safety threat to themselves or others if they do their job while impaired.

These guidelines apply to a variety of jobs in the highway transportation, aviation, transit, railroad, maritime, and pipeline industries. Each industry has regulations that clarify who is and is not safety sensitive.

Being a safety-sensitive employee is less about job title and more about duties. If a manager and supervisor might need to perform safety-sensitive jobs on short notice, then they qualify for testing.

Where Can You Find DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulations?

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You can find the regulations for how testing should be conducted in 49 CFR 40—these are universal to all DOT agencies.

The rules for who and when are written by the regulating agency for each industry, so they're spread out across the federal code:

  • Commercial Motor Carriers: 49 CFR 382; Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
  • Aviation: 14 CFR 120; Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Transit: 49 CFR 655; Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
  • Railroad: 49 CFR 219; Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
  • Maritime: 49 CFR 4 and 16; U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)
  • Pipeline: 49 CFR 199; Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)

What Is a DOT Medical Certification?

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A DOT medical certificate is the document you get when you "pass" a DOT physical conducted by a qualified medical examiner (a doctor, physician's assistant, or nurse practitioner).

You may also be drug tested during your DOT physical, based on the rules discussed above.

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