OSHA’s National Emphasis Program (NEP) targeting warehousing and distribution center operations is based on the variety of safety and health workplace hazards that the Department of Labor has identified on these types of jobsites, such as struck-by, caught-in-between, slips, trips, and fall hazards, and more specifically for this recent NEP – heat and ergonomic hazards.[i]
This article explores the details of OSHA’s NEP on Warehousing and Distribution Center Operations and how PPE can help organizations meet these guidelines, offering practical and effective solutions to help enhance worker safety.
A Proactive Approach to Workplace Safety
OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on Warehousing and Distribution Center Operations became effective on July 13, 2023 and is set to terminate on July 13, 2026.[i] It encourages employers to prioritize heat and ergonomic safety through proactive measures such as frequent rest breaks, adequate hydration, and comprehensive training on heat illness signs.
This multifaceted approach includes thorough inspections, detailed education, and a strong emphasis on preventive measures, including ergonomic assessments to help mitigate repetitive strain injuries. Understanding and complying with the NEP’s guidelines is important for employers to avoid the risk of penalties and to help protect their employees effectively.
Aligning with OSHA’s NEP: Practical Tips for Employers
In the wake of OSHA’s NEP, employers should consider whether to review and refine their safety policies. Here are guidelines for key areas of focus:
- Audits: Employers may want to conduct comprehensive internal audits of their existing safety measures. These audits can expose noncompliance gaps and pinpoint opportunities for improvement, such as areas with inadequate attention to heat or ergonomic hazards.
- PPE and Safety Solutions: Investing in proper PPE and safety equipment designed with the intention of helping to mitigate the hazards highlighted in OSHA’s NEP can also be a key step in enhancing worker safety and compliance. PPE including head protection and fall protection can be especially important for warehouse and distribution center operations.
- Training: Educating the workforce is another key strategy to consider. Workers should receive training on recognizing the signs of heat-related illnesses and understanding ergonomic principles that can help prevent injury. Tools like OSHA’s Quick Card publications provide a valuable resource for educating workers on these topics.
Help Combat Safety Hazards with Innovative PPE Solutions and Training
Innovative gear can play a significant role in helping to support worker safety in warehousing and distribution center jobsites.
- Head Protection Solutions
- The V-Gard® C1™ Hard Hat features ReflectIR™ Thermal Barrier technology, which helps keep the inside of the hard hat up to 20°F cooler in sunny conditions.[i] The large brim on the C1 helps provide additional shade and sun protection, with 12% greater coverage.[ii] And optional large vents with strategic placement help enable improved air flow.
- The V-Gard® 500 Vented Full-Brim Hard Hat is designed to help foster air circulation, mitigate excessive heat buildup, and enhance comfort during long shifts particularly in indoor settings. The design features lateral contours for easy integration of hearing protection, and an extended trough for around-the-brim protection on hot and/or wet environments.
- Fall Protection Solutions
- The V-FLEX™ Safety Harness, part of the V-Series line of fall harnesses, features the RaceFLEX™ connection, which is an innovative buckle system that reduces the need for bulky chest straps and allows for a close, comfortable fit. This design helps reduce points of pressure and friction that can contribute to muscle fatigue and injury. All MSA V-Series harnesses are designed with comfort in mind, are available in a variety of sizes ranging from XS to SXL.
- Safety Training
- In order to help make sure you understand the latest OSHA regulations and have an understanding of the appropriate PPE for your jobsite’s specific safety concerns, MSA Training and Safety Education courses are available in both in-person and virtual options. Topics include Fall Protection and Confined Space Awareness training, Competent User training, Qualified Person training, and more.
Consider whether selecting the right PPE for workers and following the recommendations included in OSHA’s NEP can help warehouse and distribution center employers not only enhance worker safety, but also proactively create a broader culture of safety across their organization.
[ii] Compared to a hard hat without the ReflectIR Thermal Barrier in sunny conditions; testing done with black, non-vented, V-Gard C1 Hard Hats
[iii] Compared to a full-brim V-Gard or V-Gard® 500 hard hat