OSHA Launches Workplace Hazard Prevention Program
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration launched a new effort in July to improve workplace safety.
The goal of OSHA’s national emphasis program is preventing workplace hazards in warehouses, processing facilities, distribution centers, and high-risk retail establishments.
In the past 10 years, warehousing and distribution centers have grown to include nearly two million employees in the industry.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows injury and illness rates for these establishments are higher than in private industry overall.
Fatalities in warehousing and distribution centers more than doubled from 21 to 46 between 2020 and 2021.
“Our enforcement efforts are designed to do one thing: lead to permanent change in workplace safety,” said OSHA assistant secretary Doug Parker.
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.
The program will also include inspections of retail establishments with high injury rates.
Those inspections will 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 will also assess heat and ergonomic hazards under the emphasis program.
Health inspections may be conducted if hazards are present.
OSHA also identified a number of other dangers and potential aids to help employers in this industry.
“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,” Parker said.
OSHA will choose inspected establishments from two lists.
One includes establishments with industry codes covered under this emphasis program.
The second consists of retail establishments with the highest rates of injuries and illnesses resulting in days away, restricted duty, or job transfer.
States are required to adopt this program or establish a different program at least as effective as the federal model.
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