MRB Issues Latest Guidelines. Are You Ready?

professional driver

The FMCSA safety regulations are constantly being updated. On August 22-23, 2016, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Medical Review Board (MRB) held an open meeting to hear from interested parties and provide updated recommendations to the FMCSA related to the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). This was to improve the safety regulations for truck drivers in the industry. The latest recommendations from the MRB to the FMCSA will require greater scrutiny of professional drivers and railroad pilots for potential obstructive sleep apnea risk during the medical certification process. They also require someone holding a commercial motor vehicle license to be sent directly to a board-certified sleep physician for testing and diagnosis if risk is detected.

New Recommendations Could Result in Testing More Drivers

Based on the latest MRB recommendations, the number of professional drivers who may be required to have sleep testing could be staggering based on the statistics (see PDF download). For example, research has demonstrated that 17-19% of professional drivers have a BMI of > 40, which means they are immediately “at risk” for OSA. As the rulemaking process continues, it is important to consider the personal ramification of this new information for our professional drivers. Not only is this a matter of maintaining fitness for duty as a driver, but it underscores an imminent health and safety risk to one of the largest, and arguably, most vulnerable workforces in America, our truck drivers.

“Identifying individuals who are not only at risk for sleep disorders, but who are already suffering the health, safety and well-being impairments created by untreated sleep disorders, must become a major public health policy in the US. The urgency of this unmet need is clear; from the generational rise of healthcare costs related to sleep health associated conditions, to the well-known safety risks and stunted well-being, population sleep loss is not only a workplace business topic, it is a differentiator of productivity and human performance”, says Jeffrey Durmer, MD, PhD & Chief Medical Officer of FusionHealth. He added, “the first step transportation companies can take is to identify their associates at risk and proactively support them through the sleep testing process. Avoiding the OSA topic altogether is a mistake that will come back to haunt a company either through litigation related to preventable accidents, or accentuating the driver shortage by increasing retention problems for those identified with this prevalent sleep condition.”

The reality is that the cost associated with testing, as well as the time needed to access care in the current healthcare system, will cause significant business and personal interruption in an industry that is currently fighting a driver shortage. Specifically, according to The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), sleep testing alone costs professional drivers on average $1,220. According to the ATRI, 41% of drivers report being out of work up to 30 days in order to get sleep testing. Access to care and unintended wasteful healthcare and business cost must be considered when creating a solution to this problem.

A Real Solution

Solving the accessibility, scalability and affordability problem of OSA for the trucking industry is the mission of FusionHealth. FusionHealth is a population sleep health management platform company that brings standardized screening for sleep disorders, mobile laboratory sleep testing and telemedicine-based care that makes access to care simple, scalable and predictable. The FusionHealth solution eliminates wasted cost and time and provides health, safety, well-being and financial results for our professional driver participants and their companies. If you’d like to learn more about how FusionHealth sleep solutions can benefit your company, please visit: https://www.fusionhealth.com//risk-safety/

You can also download the PDF for more information on the MRB updated recommendations for OSA.

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Current State of FMCSA Guidance for Obstructive Sleep Apnea - Dr. Jeffrey Durmer
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