On August 17, OSHA announced that it had recently launched a regional initiative in three Mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia in an effort to protect workers and reduce injuries and illnesses in the warehousing, storage and distribution yards’ industries.
The agency's Regional Emphasis Program for Warehousing Operation focuses on industry employers in Pennsylvania, Delaware, the District of Columbia, and West Virginia.
“With the rapid growth of e-commerce, the warehousing industry has significantly expanded. This emphasis program will address hazardous conditions these workers continuously face every day,” explained OSHA Regional Administrator Michael Rivera in a statement.“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.”
Concern over a Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 finding that the warehousing and storage 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 lead to this initiative. In addition, from 2017 to 2020, BLS reported 93 work-related fatalities nationally in the industry.
OSHA’s emphasis program began on Aug. 3, 2022, with a three-month period of outreach aimed at education and prevention. During this time, agency representatives will share safety and health information with employers, trade associations, workers and other stakeholders. OSHA encourages employers to review operations at their warehousing, storage and distribution facilities before the program’s second phase, focused on ensuring compliance with federal safety and health standards.
In fall 2022, OSHA will begin targeted enforcement, incorporating on-site inspections to identify safety and health hazards, including those typically found in the warehousing industry. These include those related to the use of powered industrial trucks, such as forklifts, lockout/tagout procedures, machine guarding, means of egress, and fire suppression. Inspections will not include marine terminals or shipyards.
The emphasis program ends Aug. 3, 2027, unless extended. The program supplements the work of OSHA’s area offices as they continue to open inspections in response to complaints, hospitalizations and fatalities.