OSHA has begun a five-year emphasis program focusing on warehouses in Pennsylvania, Delaware, the District of Columbia and West Virginia.
The regional emphasis program will cover warehousing, storage and distribution yards in an effort to protect workers in the warehouse industry. Inspections will not include marine terminals or shipyards.
Higher-than-average injury rate led to program
This initiative, which began Aug. 3, follows a 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) “finding that the warehousing industry’s injury rate of 4.8 per 100 workers is higher than the U.S. average of 2.7 per 100 rate among all private industries.”
BLS also found that from 2017 to 2020, there were 93 work-related fatalities nationally in the industry.
“With the rapid growth of e-commerce, the warehousing industry has significantly expanded,” OSHA Regional Administrator Michael Rivera said. “This emphasis program will address hazardous conditions these workers continuously face every day.”
“Through coordinated outreach, education efforts and on-site inspections, OSHA is determined to identify hazardous workplace conditions and hold industry employers accountable for providing a safe and healthful workplace,” Rivera added.
3-month outreach followed by targeted enforcement
The emphasis program began with a three-month outreach period to promote education and prevention. Outreach activities include agency representatives sharing safety and health information with employers, trade associations, workers and other stakeholders.
During this three-month period, OSHA is encouraging employers to review operations at their warehousing, storage and distribution facilities before the enforcement phase begins in the fall of 2022.
When targeted enforcement begins, OSHA will conduct on-site inspections to identify safety and health hazards, including those typically found in the warehousing industry, including:
- use of powered industrial trucks, such as forklifts
- lockout/tagout procedures
- machine guarding
- means of egress, and
- fire suppression.
The emphasis program ends Aug. 3, 2027, unless extended.