In its ongoing effort to support the unionization of Amazon, OSHA has launched a new National Emphasis Program for safety enforcement that specifically targets warehousing operations.
“Our enforcement efforts are designed to do one thing: lead to permanent change in workplace safety,” said OSHA Chief Doug Parker.
“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.”
In the past 10 years, warehousing and distribution centers have experienced tremendous growth with more than 1.9 million people employed in the industry, the agency pointed out.
“The Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows 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,” according to the OSHA announcement.
Under the new three-year NEP, the agency will conduct comprehensive safety inspections focused on hazards related to powered lift truck operations, material handling and storage, walking and working surfaces, means of exit and fire protection.
OSHA added that these activities are expected to include inspections of retail establishments with high injury rates with a focus on storage and loading areas. The agency stressed that it may expand the scope of an individual inspection when evidence shows that violations may exist in other areas of a facility.
OSHA said that while conducting the NEP inspection activities it also intends to assess heat and ergonomic hazards. In addition, the agency said health inspections may be conducted and additional enforcement actions undertaken if it finds these hazards are present. OSHA also initiated separate NEPs earlier this year addressing falls and heat.