NSC Labor Division news Federal agencies Wholesale and retail trade

OSHA launches National Emphasis Program on warehouse safety


Photo: Ton Photograph/iStockphoto

Washington — OSHA has begun a National Emphasis Program that targets hazards in warehouses, distribution centers and “high-risk” retail establishments.

The NEP, which agency administrator Doug Parker announced during a National Forklift Safety Day event in June, also covers mail/postal processing facilities and parcel delivery/courier services.

Inspections under the initiative will focus on common workplace hazards, including powered industrial trucks, material handling/storage, walking-working surfaces, exits and fire protection.

“Heat and ergonomic hazards shall be considered during all inspections covered by this NEP, and a health inspection shall be conducted if OSHA learns that heat and/or ergonomic hazards are present,” an agency directive states.

Inspections of retail establishments with high injury rates will focus on storage and loading areas. “However, OSHA may expand an inspection’s scope when evidence shows that violations may exist in other areas of the establishment,” the agency says in a July 13 press release.

Establishments will be chosen for inspection from two lists. One is a list of establishments with industry or North American Industry Classification System codes covered under the NEP. The other consists of retail establishments with the highest DART (days away, restricted or transferred) rates.

Nearly 2 million people are employed in the industries covered under the NEP, OSHA says. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, warehousing and distribution centers have higher injury and illness rates than private industry overall, and rates in certain sectors are more than two times higher than the national average.

“Our enforcement efforts are designed to do one thing: lead to permanent change in workplace safety,” Parker said in the release. “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.”

OSHA State Plans must adopt similar emphasis programs if they haven’t already done so.

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