Warehouse, Distribution, and Storage Safety Solutions are Emphasized by OSHA

boxes on conveyor belt in distribution facility

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov), the number of people who work in U.S. warehousing and distribution centers has more than doubled in the past 10 years, to nearly 2 million people. That number is projected to increase.

As the Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows, injury and illness rates for these businesses are much higher than average when compared to all private industries: 5.18 vs. 2.76 injuries per 100 workers.

Because injuries are on the rise in these businesses, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched a three-year National Emphasis Program (NEP) effective Oct. 13. NEPs “are temporary programs that focus OSHA's resources on particular hazards and high-hazard industries.”

Per OSHA's news release, “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.”

OSHA’s comprehensive inspections for targeted industries will focus on powered industrial vehicle operations, material handling and storage, walking and working surfaces, means of egress and fire protection, heat exposure, and ergonomic hazards.

Businesses included in this program include warehousing/storage and distribution operations as well as some retail operations with high injury rates, as shown in the table below. 

 NAICS Codes Establishments
491110  Postal Service (Processing & Distribution Centers Only)
492110  Couriers and Express Delivery Services
492210  Local Messengers and Local Delivery
493110  General Warehousing and Storage
493120  Refrigerated Warehousing and Storage
493130  Farm Product Warehousing and Storage
493190  Other Warehousing and Storage
Table 2. NAICS codes for Warehousing and Distribution Center Operations, Mail/Postal Processing and Distribution Centers, and Parcel/Delivery Courier Services covered under this NEP.


 NAICS Codes High Injury Rate Retail Establishments
444110  Home Centers
444130  Hardware Stores
444190  Other Building Material Dealers
 445110  Supermarkets and other grocery stores
 452311  Warehouse Clubs and Supercenters

Table 3. High Injury Rate Retail Establishments covered under this NEP.

OSHA provides guidance on the law, hazards, solutions, and more on the Warehousing resource page.

Contact your local OSHA office or your MEMIC Safety Consultant if you have questions about this national emphasis program.

More resources for our policy holders can be found on MEMIC Safety Director, including:

  • Warehouse inspection checklist
  • MEMIC Minutes tip sheets for forklifts and powered industrial trucks
  • Forklift evaluation and inspection forms and logs
  • General lifting guidelines, facility ergonomics, and back injury prevention resources
  • Walking Working Surface Assessment checklist and Slip Trip Fall Prevention resources and programs
  • Employee Emergency Evacuation Procedure, Emergency Action Plan, and Exit Routes sample programs

Recorded Webinars:

  • Can You Beat the Heat?
  • Strategies for Safe Lifting and the Future of Manual Material Handling
  • Fall Protection: Ensuring Your Workers Are Adequately Protected

Previous blogs:

Written by Natalie Campaneria & Stephen Badger