By Adam R. YoungJames L. CurtisMelissa A. OrtegaPatrick D. Joyce, and Craig B. Simonsen

Seyfarth Synopsis: OSHA Region V last week provided a Webinar on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (“OSHA”) national emphasis program (“NEP”) to prevent workplace hazards in warehouses, processing facilities, distribution centers, and high-risk retail establishments.

Since its announcement earlier this year, OSHA has attempted to adjust its enforcement focus to address the Nation’s growing warehousing and logistics industries. Starting July 13, 2023, federal OSHA began conducting inspections under its National Emphasis Program for Warehousing and Distribution Center Operations. NEP inspections have been moving forward steadily, including programmed and expanded complaint/injury inspections in the 27 states where federal OSHA regulates private employers.

According to OSHA, the NEP is intended “to identify and reduce or eliminate hazards during warehousing and distribution center operations, mail/postal processing and distribution centers, parcel delivery/courier services, and certain high injury rate retail establishments.” 

Under [the NEP], 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. The program will also include inspections of retail establishments with high injury rates with a focus on storage and loading areas; however, OSHA may expand an inspection’s scope when evidence shows that violations may exist in other areas of the establishment.

The primary focus areas of the NEP are already broad, but OSHA has explicitly noted “it may expand an inspection’s scope [to] other areas of the establishment” and may open health inspections where warranted, so the bounds of OSHA’s NEP enforcement activity could expand quickly. Employers can continue to expect programmed inspections in the industry going forward.

Here is a list from OSHA’s presentation of expected areas of focus during a NEP inspection:

Here is a link to OSHA’s full presentation.

For more information on this or any related topic, please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Workplace Safety and Health (OSHA/MSHA) Team.