The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Wednesday a mid-Atlantic regional initiative in three states and the District of Columbia in an effort to protect workers and reduce injuries and illnesses in warehousing, storage and distribution.
The five-year program focuses on industrial employers in Pennsylvania, Delaware, the District of Columbia and West Virginia.
The initiative follows a Bureau of Labor Statistics finding in 2020 that the warehousing industry’s injury rate of 4.8 per 100 workers is higher than the U.S. average of 2.7 per 100 among all private industries. Additionally, from 2017 to 2020, the BLS reported 93 work-related deaths nationally in the industry.
OSHA said its focus program launched Aug. 3 and includes a three-month period of outreach aimed at education and prevention. During this time, representatives from the agency will share safety and health information with employers, trade associations and workers.
In the fall of 2022, OSHA will begin targeted enforcement, with on-site inspections to identify safety and health hazards, including those commonly found in the warehouse industry. These include those related to the use of powered industrial trucks such as forklifts, lockout/tagout procedures, machine guarding, egress methods and firefighting. Inspections will not cover marine terminals or shipyards.
“With the rapid growth of e-commerce, the warehouse industry has expanded significantly. This focus program will address the hazardous conditions these workers constantly face every day, OSHA Philadelphia Regional Administrator Michael Rivera said in a statement. “Through coordinated outreach, training efforts and on-site inspections, OSHA is committed to identifying hazardous workplace conditions and holding industry employers accountable for providing a safe and healthy workplace.”;
The emphasis program will expire on August 3, 2027.