Four Ways to Lower Your Risk of an Off-Site Audit
By Daren Hansen, Sr. Editor — Transportation Safety, J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.
Motor carriers are not chosen at random for an off-site audit. There has to be a good reason, which means most of the power lies in your hands to prevent an audit from happening. Here are four actions you can take to drastically lower your chances of being audited:
- Monitor, analyze, and act on your CSA data
- Update your safety management controls
- Keep accurate and complete data
- Audit your records
Manage, Analyze, and Act on Your CSA Data
Think of your CSA scores as an advanced warning system, alerting you to future enforcement actions. As your scores climb, so do the odds of an audit or other review. That’s why being proactive is critical. Make good use of your CSA data:
- Make sure it’s accurate. If you see bad data in the system, such as crashes or roadside violations that don’t belong to you, challenge them using the DataQs system.
- Look for trends. Download your violation and inspection data for each BASIC and analyze it. By looking for trends in the types of violations, a picture of your company’s compliance problems should emerge.
- Take action. Use a “continuous improvement” model to take action when you find deficiencies. The Safety Management Cycle is a great place to start.
- Repeat the process. Keeping your CSA scores low is a continuous cycle of review, analysis, and action.
Update Your Safety Management Controls
The FMCSA requires all motor carriers to have basic safety management controls in place to prevent crashes. Even if you’ve never heard of such controls before reading this guide, you probably have some in place, and you need to make sure they’re up to the task.
Safety management controls include all the policies, procedures, technologies, and practices you have to ensure compliance, ensure the safe movement of products and/or passengers, and reduce the risk of crashes. Learn more about safety management controls in our blog article.
These controls require continuous improvement. If you haven’t reviewed your safety management controls in a while, it may be time, especially if you’re already at risk of an audit.
Keep Accurate and Complete Records
You need complete and accurate records in place at all times in case the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) wants to see them. A fleet management system can help you organize your records and make the recordkeeping process efficient and easily shared.
Having complete documentation can prevent an audit. Your documentation is key to ensuring your vehicles and drivers are fully qualified and in compliance. For example, if you’re missing necessary driver documentation, there’s a good chance you have drivers who were not appropriately vetted, who are not complying with the rules, and who may not even be qualified to be behind the wheel. It’s only a matter of time before these violations come to light, increasing your audit risk.
Audit Your Records
Self-audits are a great way to uncover compliance and safety issues before a government auditor does. In addition, they help you avoid last-minute scrambling to find all your compliance documents for an audit. In this way, a careful internal audit can prevent errors and improve results.
Use self-audit checklists to review your compliance with the safety regulations and with established best practices, in addition to performing ongoing log auditing.
You Got This!
With off-site audits on the rise, there could be one in your future, and you need to be ready. If you’re not 100% confident in your safety program, if your CSA scores are climbing, or if you’re concerned about potential complaints to FMCSA, it’s time to act. Prepare now with a FREE copy of The Fleet Manager’s Guide — Preparing for a DOT Off-Site Audit.
By proactively monitoring your safety data, implementing solid safety management controls, keeping your records up to date and accurate, and performing self-audits on your safety and compliance programs, you have the opportunity to showcase your safety management program and gain the respect of your drivers and customers. Consider using Encompass® Fleet Management, created by J. J. Keller. It’s helped over 10,000 fleets improve DOT compliance. It’s a great time to talk with a compliance specialist about new features coming to the Encompass, including award-winning training, a regulatory library, and a new dual-facing dash cam.