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OSHA announces national emphasis program for warehouses, distribution centers


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Thursday launched a national emphasis program to prevent workplace hazards in warehouses, processing facilities, distribution centers and other “high-risk retail” establishments.

OSHA says the program is in response to the growth in warehousing and distribution centers, paralleled by increases in workplace accidents, citing Bureau of Labor Statistics data that show injury and illness rates for these establishments 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 says it 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. The program will also include inspections of retail establishments with high injury rates with a 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. OSHA says it will also assess heat and ergonomic hazards under the emphasis program, and health inspections may be conducted if these hazards are present.

State plans are now required to adopt this emphasis program or establish a different program at least as effective as the federal model, according to the statement.