OSHA’s recently released NEP hopes to create safer workplaces for employees in fulfillment and distribution centers, focusing on hazards like the operation of powered industrial trucks (PITs), material handling and storage, walking and working surfaces, and means of egress and fire protection. The NEP includes inspection of retail establishments with high injury rates in the storage and loading areas. The NEP will be in effect for three years, and OSHA plans to conduct approximately 1,000 inspections per year under the program.
“The warehousing and distribution center industry has experienced significant growth in recent years, due in part to the rise of e-commerce,” said Vik Ramaswamy, Senior Risk Control Manager at Safety National. “This growth has led to an increase in the number of workers in the industry and a corresponding increase in the number of injuries and illnesses.”
As these comprehensive safety inspections are underway, employers should be aware of the intent of this NEP.
Why It Was Launched
In 2021, the warehousing and distribution center industry had an incidence rate of 5.5 injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time equivalent workers, which was significantly higher than the national average of 3.0 injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time equivalent workers. The industry also had a days away restricted or transferred (DART) rate of 4.6 per 100 full-time equivalent workers, which was also significantly higher than the national average of 3.9 per 100 full-time equivalent workers.
How It Will Help
The NEP is designed to help reduce the number of injuries and illnesses in the warehousing and distribution center industry. OSHA hopes that the program will encourage employers to take steps to improve safety in their workplaces, such as:
- Providing training on PIT operations
- Implementing safe material handling and storage procedures
- Maintaining safe walking and working surfaces
- Ensuring that means of egress are clear and accessible
- Installing fire protection systems
OSHA also hopes that the NEP will help to raise awareness of the hazards in the warehousing and distribution center industry among workers and employers. The agency plans to conduct outreach and education activities promoting the NEP, including training that will help employers and workers understand the hazards and how to prevent injuries.
The NEP is a significant step forward in OSHA’s efforts to improve safety in the warehousing and distribution center industry. The agency hopes that the program will help to reduce the number of injuries and illnesses in this high-hazard industry and make workplaces safer for workers.