Friday, October 18, 2013

Teamsters score major victory over sleep apnea guidance

Here's good news for Teamster truck drivers and anyone who turns a key for a living: Teamsters who might be at risk for sleep apnea won't have to undergo costly tests or lose time at work because of federal regulators.  The International Brotherhood of Teamsters successfully lobbied Congress to force federal trucking regulators to set strict guidelines for when they can require screening, testing and treatment for sleep apnea.

The House and Senate passed the bill unanimously, and President Obama signed it into law earlier this week. Now, federal regulators will have to listen to the Teamsters, owner-operators, trucking and bus associations and YOU before issuing regulations on sleep apnea.

This is a good thing because regulators were coming up with "guidance" for testing and treating sleep apnea for truckers and other CDL holders. That "guidance" could have cost commercial truck drivers thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses. It could have cost them their jobs.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) actually stated that 28 percent of CDL holders have sleep apnea. FMCSA's guidance in 2012 set arbitrary standards -- like 17-inch necks and certain body mass indexes -- that would have forced many Teamsters to go through the potentially costly testing.
Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa said in a statement, We cannot allow federal regulators to make uninformed decisions that will cost millions of people a lot of money that they can’t afford to spend right now... 
This law, which passed the House with a unanimous vote, protects millions of working men and women who turn a key for a living from being forced to spend money on a test they may not need at the whim of a federal agency.
The new law won't absolutely prevent doctors from referring certain drivers for testing during their medical exams, it will postpone mandatory screening for three years or more.  During that time, you can be sure the Teamsters' voices will be heard!