Workplace Safety in Distribution Centers and Warehouses at Heart of OSHA’s New National Emphasis Program

The emphasis program, which will run for three years, will focus on preventing workplace hazards.

A new national emphasis program announced on July 13 by OSHA will focus on warehouses and certain distribution centers and retail establishments.

According to a news release, the three-year program was established to prevent workplace hazards in these workplaces, which include “processing facilities distribution centers” and “retail establishments with high injury rates.”

OSHA will “assess heat and ergonomic hazards” as part of the program and will carry out inspections that will target hazards associated with the following, per the news release:

  • powered industrial vehicle operations
  • material handling and storage
  • walking and working surfaces
  • means of egress
  • fire protection

Workplaces may be selected if they are on a list of “industry codes covered under this emphasis program,” the agency said.

At the retail establishments, which will be selected from a list of those "with the highest rates of injuries and illnesses resulting in days away, restricted duty or job transfer," per the agency, OSHA’s objectives are primarily aimed at storage and loading areas, but if it learns of other violations, it may widen its focus.

"Our enforcement efforts are designed to do one thing: lead to permanent change in workplace safety," said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker in the news 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."

About the Author

Alex Saurman is a former Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety,who has since joined OH&S’s client services team. She continues to work closely with OH&S’s editorial team and contributes to the magazine.

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