On July 13, 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a new national emphasis program (NEP) aimed at preventing workplace hazards in warehouses, processing facilities, distribution centers, and high-risk retail establishments. The NEP was developed in response to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data showing that injury and illness rates for these establishments are significantly higher than for other establishments.
OSHA “must use neutral and objective selection criteria” when targeting establishments for inspections under the NEP. Establishments chosen for inspection will either be those in targeted industries (identified by NAICS codes) or smaller retail establishments with high rates of injury or illness.
All inspections will focus on common workplace hazards including, but not limited to, powered industrial vehicle operations, material handling and storage, walking-working surfaces, means of egress, and fire protection. Additionally, heat and ergonomic hazards shall be addressed in all inspections. If OSHA learns that heat and/or ergonomic hazards are present, a health inspection must be conducted. Inspections of retail establishments with high injury rates will focus on storage and loading areas, however the scope may be expanded where evidence shows that other violations may exist.
Within 60 days of the effective date, a State Plan must submit a notice stating whether the State Plan will adopt or already has a program that is identical to or at least as effective as the federal program.