OSHA National Emphasis Program (NEP) Directed to Warehousing and Distribution Center Operations
“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.”
~ Doug Parker, Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health
OSHA recently issued a new NEP directed toward warehousing and distribution center operations after Bureau of Labor Statistics history showed that injury and illness rates for these establishments are significantly higher than for other establishments. The 3-year NEP, effective July 13, 2023, provides policies and procedures for inspections of warehousing and distribution center operations, mail/postal processing and distribution centers, parcel delivery/courier services, and certain high-injury-rate retail establishments. All inspections conducted under this NEP, except high-injury-rate retail establishments, will be comprehensive safety inspections. In the case of high-injury-rate retail establishments, inspections will be partial inspections, unless OSHA expands the scope after finding evidence that violative conditions may be found in other areas of that establishment.
Workplace hazards of focus may include, but not be limited to:
- Powered industrial vehicle operations,
- Material handling/storage,
- Walking/Working surfaces,
- Means of egress,
- Fire protection, and
- Heat and ergonomic hazards.1
OSHA plans to target establishments for a programmed inspection using neutral and objective selection criteria. Area offices will be provided two separate lists to be inspected under this NEP: (1) a list of establishments taken from certain NAICS codes2, and (2) a list of high-rate retail establishments3. OSHA also will conduct unprogrammed inspections based on fatalities/catastrophes, complaints, or referrals related to establishments in the NAICS codes covered under this NEP.
OSHA state plans will be required to adopt this NEP or establish a different program at least as effective as the federal model within 60 days of July 13, 2023.
Employers not included in the NAICS codes listed but that maintain a warehouse can use this NEP for insight into areas an OSHA Compliance officer may be interested in during a compliance inspection conducted under a different NEP or as part of an inspection following an employee complaint or reportable injury or illness.
NIA provides the information in this article as an educational resource to promote a safer industry. While the information provided is based on the NIA’s and the author’s best judgment and the best information available at the time the article was prepared, NIA encourages all readers to consult with their safety experts and legal counsel for their unique business circumstances or when making changes to their safety programs.
1. A health inspection shall be conducted if OSHA learns that heat and/or ergonomic hazards are present
2. 491110-Postal Service (Processing & Distribution Centers Only), 492110 (Couriers and Express Delivery Services), 492210 (Local Messengers and Local Delivery), 493110 (General Warehousing and Storage), 493120 (Refrigerated Warehousing and Storage), 493130 (Farm Product Warehousing and Storage), and 493190 (Other Warehousing and Storage).
3. 444110 (Home Centers), 444130 (Hardware Stores), 444190 (Other Building Material Dealers), 445110 (Supermarkets and other grocery stores), 452311 (Warehouse Clubs and Supercenters).