The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched a national emphasis program to prevent workplace hazards in warehouses and distribution centers in processing facilities. (The Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows injury and illness rates for warehousing and distribution centers are higher than in private industry overall and, in some sectors, more than twice the rate of private industry.)
Under this three-year emphasis program, OSHA will conduct comprehensive safety inspections focused on hazards related to powered industrial vehicle operations, material handling and storage, walking and working surfaces, means of egress and fire protection. OSHA also will assess heat and ergonomic hazards under the emphasis program, and health inspections may be conducted if OSHA determines these hazards are present.
In addition, under the new program, inspections focused on storage and loading areas will be conducted in retail establishments shown to have high injury rates. An inspection’s scope may be expanded when evidence shows violations may exist in other areas.
State plans will be required to adopt this emphasis program or establish a different program that is at least as effective as the federal model.
“Our enforcement efforts are designed to do one thing: lead to permanent change in workplace safety,” says Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “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.”