Labor Department launches program to reduce warehouse injuries

Labor Department launches program to reduce warehouse injuries.jpg

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Dive Brief:

  • The Department of Labor launched a “national emphasis program” as it looks to improve workplace hazard prevention in warehouses, processing facilities, distribution centers and high-risk retail establishments, the agency said in a July 13 press release.
  • Under the three-year program, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will conduct safety inspections on industrial vehicle operations, material handling and storage, walking and working surfaces.
  • The safety agency will choose premises to inspect based on their industry code — NAICS codes covering warehousing and storage, whether targeted for general, refrigerated, farm, postal or courier use, are all covered — or presence on a list of retail establishments with high rates of injury and illness, according to the agency.

Dive Insight:

Workers in warehousing and distribution centers suffer higher nonfatal injury and illness rates than the average rate in all private industries, the agency said in an enforcement directive.

Warehouse injury rates are higher than private industry rates

The average incidence rate of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time equivalent workers, from 2017 to 2021, by industry and case types.

The high incidence of injury or illness in warehousing and storage jobs led the Labor Department to increase its attention on the sector.

For instance, investigators with OSHA found some Amazon warehouse workers to be at high risk for lower back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders and issued the company more than $60,000 in proposed penalties for failing to provide a safe workplace in its warehouse facilities.

The agency also announced an initiative to ensure fair wages and rights for workers in the warehouse and logistics industry. The initiative came after a San Diego customs warehouse was found to be illegally paying warehouse workers as little as $3.38 per hour, for 45- to 51-hour weeks with no paid overtime.

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

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