Your organization probably already knows about the new “W” code or class D license change, a result of the US/Canada Medical Reciprocity Agreement for Commercial Drivers. You may be asking yourself, what does this new regulation mean for you, the employer? How can you make sure your drivers are fit to drive in the U.S. and if they are not, what can you do? First, to review the legislation:

Drivers with any of the following medical conditions are restricted from driving in the U.S:

  • Hearing impairment
  • Monocular vision
  • Insulin-dependent diabetes
  • Epilepsy/seizure history
  • If they have failed to file a cyclical medical report and were downgraded to a class “D” as a result
An important aspect of this regulation is that it will be the Ministry of Transportation, not the family doctor that will determine if your driver will receive a “W” code on their license. Many organizations have taken the new legislation as an opportunity to evaluate the policies and procedures they have in place to deal with the changes occurring in their industry.

Policies and procedures that should be reviewed in light of new regulation are:

  • What to do if a driver is determined as not medically fit?
  • How are you informed if your driver is classified as “W”? Are you dependent upon him or her telling you? The Ministry determines this, amends the actual DL and the employee reports to their employer.
  • If your driver is using a family physician, are you getting an objective medical?
  • Who do you turn to for medical advice and support?
Many organizations see value in turning to an occupational health physician or “company doctor” program to help facilitate the policies and procedures that need to be updated and to help streamline any future changes that are required.

How your occupational health physician or “Company Doctor” can help:

  • Provide you with the confidence of knowing the medical status of your employee.
  • Help integrate the services of the physician in your policies and procedures so it becomes a well-known standard for your company.
  • Provide updated medical review if your driver is downgraded.
  • Know your industry and work environment.
  • Provide centralized record keeping.
  • Provide objective driver medical exams.
  • Provide medial advice and support to help you, your drivers and their treating physician develop a return to work plan based on early intervention and objective medical information.
  • Support your risk management strategies.
  • Provide you with the peace of mind that your drivers are safe and fit for work.
Not surprising, one of the biggest risks your driver faces in not being downgraded and refused entry to the U.S. is not the driver medical, but the record keeping process.

What you need to know about the record keeping process:

  • You, as the employer are responsible to file your driver’s cyclical medical. If you don’t, they will be downgraded to Class G.
  • The driver takes the original medical assessment to the Ministry office, they grant a license (with possible restrictions), and then the driver has to provide a valid license to their employer.
  • Those drivers who failed to file a medical report and were downgraded to D must file a satisfactory medical report to have the “W” code removed.
  • Medical records are required every 3 to 5 years.
If you would like to know more about how working with Workplace Medical Corporation’s Company Doctor program can save your organization time, money and boost productivity with our occupational health expertise, please contact us.