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ON THE HORIZON

Getting Behind the Wheel

Meeting changing employment screening demands amid CSA 2010 regulations

BY KENT FERGUSON

Guest Writer

The transportation industry faces

unique issues in managing an employment screening program. Regulatory requirements, liability risks, negligent hiring and retention claims, and turnover all pose significant challenges for transportation employers. In an environment of changing regulations, the impending CSA 2010 initiatives will bring significant changes to motor carrier requirements and processes across the board. One area affected in particular is pre-employment screening. As part of the CSA 2010 initiative, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was mandated by Congress to provide motor carriers access to driver information contained in their Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) that can be used when screening new applicants. This new program is called the Pre- Employment Screening Program (PSP). It can be challenging for motor carriers to fully understand how these programs interrelate and how to navigate and manage them effectively, but it is critical that they do so to ensure that they hire the best, safest drivers – a key factor in maintaining an acceptable safety rating. PSP is designed to assist the motor carrier

industry in assessing individual operators’ crash and serious safety violation history as a pre-employment condition. The PSP report will contain the most recent five years of crash data (DOT recordable accidents) and three years of roadside inspection data from the FMCSA Motor Carrier Management Information System. Motor carriers are not mandated to use the PSP reports as part of the screening process, so it is a voluntary program at this point. However, the report will provide very useful data regarding the driver’s qualifications, which will ultimately affect a carrier’s overall safety score. Under the new system, drivers will be

issued a safety rating and driver safety ratings may be factored into the overall safety performance rating for motor carriers as well. It’s important to note that FMCSA

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states that a driver’s history before being hired by a motor carrier will not affect the carrier’s overall safety rating. A driver’s ratings and performance data are factored into the motor carrier’s score only for the time period that a driver is employed by the carrier. However, if a carrier hires a driver with a marginal driving history, there is a concern that the performance issues may continue, and there is a risk that FMCSA could target those drivers and carriers for enforcement action, fines and penalties. To avoid these risks, motor carriers should continue to conduct thorough driver screening and incorporate the PSP report into the existing screening program to gain visibility into a driver’s history and safety performance. Amid these changing regulations and

procedures, motor carriers must also keep in mind the competitive hiring environment and develop an efficient screening program with fast turnaround times to help optimize time-to-hire. An effective screening program can speed up the hiring process, improve

ROADWISE | APRIL 2010 | www.mttrucking.org

the candidate experience, help identify the most qualified candidates, and make the process more efficient, reducing costs and man-hours. This is especially important in the transportation industry where there tends to be a high turnover rate, leading to increased recruiting, hiring and on-boarding costs. A rigorous, consistent and effective background screening program can help carriers comply with regulatory requirements and protect them from non-compliance penalties; reduce the risk of accidents and cargo theft; decrease the risk associated with negligent hiring and retention; and improve the hiring process, helping to identify the most qualified candidates.

Kent Ferguson is the director of transportation solutions for HireRight. He has served the transportation industry for more than 30 years and serves as a speaker and subject matter expert on employment screening best practices for the industry.

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