Breaking News: OSHA Launches Warehouse, Distribution and Retail National Emphasis Program

  • Published
  • 13 July 2023
  • Category
  • News

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched a national emphasis program today that is aimed at reducing injuries in warehouses, distribution centers and high-risk retail establishments. Under the three-year program, OSHA will:

  • Conduct comprehensive safety inspections focused on hazards related to powered industrial vehicle operations, material handling and storage, walking and working surfaces, means of egress and fire protection.
  • Inspect retail establishments with high injury rates, with a focus on storage and loading areas; the scope of an inspection may be expanded if there is evidence of accidents and injuries in parts of the business.
  • Assess heat and ergonomic hazards and conduct health inspections when these hazards are present.

Inspected establishments will be chosen from two lists: 1) establishments with industry codes covered under the emphasis program and 2) a limited number of retail establishments with the highest rates of injuries and illnesses resulting in days away, restricted duty or job transfer.

State plans are required to adopt the emphasis program or establish a different program at least as effective as the federal model.


In the past 10 years, warehousing and distribution centers have experienced tremendous growth with more than 1.9 million people now employed in the industry. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show 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.

“Our enforcement efforts are designed to do one thing: lead to permanent change in workplace safety,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health 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.”