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The Balancing Act: OSHA & DOT Compliance for Construction Companies
Mariah Barr
6 mins read

Here's what construction safety managers need to know about consolidating and creating efficiencies in the construction compliance process so they can get back to building.

In terms of construction safety and compliance, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is typically the first that comes to mind.

But construction safety managers should know how the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) play a role in their compliance as well.

Below, we'll answer the following questions:

  • What is a DOT number and does my construction company need one?
  • Do my employees need commercial driver's licenses (CDLs)?
  • Are there differences between onsite and roadway heavy equipment regulations?
  • How do I meet DOT compliance requirements?

At Foley, our goal is to help you achieve complete compliance with all the jurisdictions that regulate your construction company.

What is a DOT number and does my construction company need one?

Department of Transportation (DOT) numbers function as a unique method of identifying companies that operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). The federal government, specifically the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) uses the number to assess the safety efforts of each company that has been assigned one.

You are required to obtain a USDOT number if your team operates any vehicle that has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 10,001 pounds or more and is involved in interstate commerce (traveling across state lines).

For example, if one of your pickup trucks has a GVWR of 8,000 pounds, but it's used to haul 3,000 pounds of material, you need to register an active DOT number. Without the number, your construction business cannot cross over to other states.

Click Here for Fast & Free DOT # Filing

It's better to prepare for potential DOT interventions, like roadside inspections, by registering for a DOT number. Reducing the number of potential violations you could be cited for helps preserve your workers' safety, maintains your company's good standing with the FMCSA, and lowers your risk of paying hefty financial penalties.

You can file your DOT number for free with Foley by clicking here.

Do my employees need commercial driver's licenses (CDLs)?

In the eyes of the FMCSA, there are numerous official factors that determine if your employees need CDLs, but the two that most closely relate to construction workers are if they're operating vehicles...

  • With a GVW or GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more
  • Of any size and transports hazardous materials

One of the most expensive DOT violations is permitting a driver to operate without a valid license (or incorrect license class), with a maximum fine of $34,712. 

You’ll want to avoid these major  driver qualification file violations & fines

Putting an employee behind the wheel of your commercial construction vehicles or heavy equipment without the right type of license isn't worth the risk. If your workers are expected to operate CMVs, make sure they have the proper licensing to do so, and prevent your hard-earned profits from going toward FMCSA penalty payments.

What's the difference between onsite and roadway heavy equipment regulations?

Although they are two separate legal entities, there are certain scenarios where DOT and OSHA regulations may flow from one to the next, especially when your employees drive heavy equipment from place to place.

For example, while your crew is traveling on public highways, they and the commercial vehicles they're operating are regulated by the DOT; however, if they need to load and unload trucks or use powered industrial machinery like forklifts at a warehouse or worksite, OSHA regulations govern their safety and health.

The overall safety practices of the act of maintaining and repairing heavy equipment are generally covered by OSHA, while the specific maintenance requirements of commercial vehicles are typically covered by the DOT. 

Are You Roadcheck Ready?  Take Our Free Quiz! 

There are also specific DOT tiedown requirements for heavy equipment that safety managers should be aware of:

  • One tiedown is required when hauling items that measure five feet or less in length and weigh 1,100 pounds or less.
  • Two tiedowns are required when hauling items that measure five feet or less in length and weigh over 1,100 pounds, or measure over five feet but less than 10 feet, regardless of their weight.

How can I make sure my construction company meets DOT compliance requirements?

Navigating the worlds of DOT and FMCSA compliance on your own, especially when you're already juggling your company's OSHA compliance, can be complicated. That's why you need a reliable DOT compliance partner to handle it for you.

Foley works with construction companies across the US to ensure they're meeting all-too-important DOT compliance regulations. Many of our customers didn't realize how many potential violations they could be committing before they officially filed their DOT numbers.

If you're busy focusing on OSHA compliance and worried you may not be meeting all your DOT requirements, get in touch with the compliance experts here at Foley. Our DOT compliance software features automated programs that work overtime so you don't have to.

Interested in seeing how our software solution can work for you? Request a free demo now to get your construction company on track toward complete compliance. 

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