Navigating OSHA's National Emphasis Program (NEP) in 2023: Your Safety Guide with SG World USA

A Guide to OSHA's National Emphasis Program (NEP) on Warehousing & Distribution Center Operations July 13th, 2023

In the summer of 2023, we all learned of OSHA's new National Emphasis Program (NEP) on warehousing and distribution center operations. If you missed it, you can find the OSHA announcement here, and the full details of the NEP here.

1) What is a National Emphasis Program (NEP)?
A National Emphasis Program (NEP) is a Directive. It is a temporary program that focuses OSHA's resources on particular hazards and high-hazard industries. Existing and potential new emphasis programs are evaluated using inspection data, injury, and illness data, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports, peer-reviewed literature, analysis of inspection findings, and other available information sources.

2) What is the focus of this Warehousing & Distribution Center Operations NEP?
OSHA states: "All inspections under this NEP will focus on workplace hazards common to the above industries, including, but not limited to, powered industrial vehicle operations, material handling/storage, walking-working surfaces, means of egress, and fire protection. Heat and ergonomic hazards shall be considered during all inspections covered by this NEP and a health inspection shall be conducted if OSHA learns that heat and/or ergonomic hazards are present."

3) Who May be Affected?
This NEP is OSHA-wide including OSHA National, Regional, and Area Offices, State Plans, and Onsite Consultation Programs. This means you if you're regulated by OSHA with warehousing and distribution center operations.

4) Why you should be ready now?
In the OSHA instruction, they advise that within 60 days of the effective date of July 13th, a State Plan must submit a notice of intent indicating whether the State Plan will adopt or already has a warehousing and distribution center operations emphasis program that is identical to or at least as effective as this program. State Plan adoption, either identical or different, should be accomplished within six months.

5) How can SG World USA help you prepare?
We hear from our customers all the time that you must be able to prove compliance as well as drive the safe behaviors of your people in the first place. The NEP mentions some specifics, some examples are below, along with how SG World USA can help you:

Powered Industrial Vehicle Operations

  • PIT safety starts with inspections as required by OSHA's 1910.178(q)(7) standard. The biggest challenge is making sure those inspections happen before every shift. This can be solved with this patented solution.
  • Ensuring operators are held accountable for safe behaviors, together with demonstrating the organization's commitment to safe working is of equal importance. That can be helped with racking banners.

    Material Handling/Storage
    We've all seen videos online of poorly kept pallet racking, performing a regular inspection is a great prevention tool as a starting point. Equally, our customers like to visually identify racking strikes using a hazard map board.

    Fire Protection
    Sometimes the periodic inspection of emergency equipment can get missed. Fire Extinguishers are a good example. Making sure you have robust logs of inspections in a way that is visible to all is a great start. It's also important to identify fire extinguishers.

    Heat Hazards
    There are some great cooling products out there. It's important as well to first create mindfulness among workers to use these products and prevent heat-related illness. A great way to build that awareness is here.

    The NEP is not limited to the above points. If you are striving to make a shift in your safety culture, whether driven by OSHA regulation or otherwise, reach out to SG World USA today.

    An NEP is a focus for OSHA nationally. Now that this warehousing and distribution directive has matured, we can expect to see inspection nationwide. We hope this guide offers you the information you need to check your business is ready and your people are safe.

    Check out some of our blog posts to read more about OSHA regulations, building safety culture, getting employees involved, and setting your organization up for safety success!

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