July 20, 2023

National Emphasis Program to Target Warehousing, Distribution Center Operations

OSHA has launched a national emphasis program (NEP) intended to prevent workplace hazards in warehouses, distribution centers, and “high-risk retail establishments” such as hardware stores, supermarkets, and warehouse clubs and supercenters. Mail and postal processing and distribution centers as well as parcel delivery and courier services are also included in the new program. Establishments like these have injury and illness rates higher than those in private industry overall, OSHA states. And for certain sectors, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show injuries and illnesses at twice the rate of private industry, the agency’s news release explains.

Under the NEP, OSHA will conduct comprehensive safety inspections at covered establishments with agency personnel focusing on hazards commonly found in these workplaces, including those related to powered industrial vehicle operations, material handling and storage, walking and working surfaces, means of egress, and fire protection. OSHA will also assess heat and ergonomic hazards during inspections conducted as part of this program. The NEP calls for only partial inspections of retail establishments focused on storage and loading areas unless OSHA finds evidence of potential violations in other areas of a business.

“This emphasis program allows OSHA to direct resources to establishments where evidence shows employers must be more intentional in addressing the root causes of worker injuries and align their business practices with the goal to ensure worker health and safety,” said Doug Parker, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA.

More information, including a link to the new NEP, may be found in OSHA’s news release.