On April 14, 2014, the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) announced that it is launching a local emphasis program in an effort to reduce injuries and fatalities in the retail sector in Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The program will involve safety inspections of randomly selected clothing stores, department stores, general merchandise and warehouse clubs, and other miscellaneous retailers such as pet stores. The program will continue through at least March 2015, but OSHA has left open the possibility that the program will be extended

The inspections will be comprehensive but will emphasize hazards that OSHA has identified as being particularly likely to cause death or serious injury in the retail environment. Specifically, compliance officers have been instructed to carefully scrutinize retailers’ exit routes, electrical conditions, and material handling and storage. Any company at any worksite that is inspected under this program will be subject to re-inspection, which may be based on events such as fatalities, catastrophes, complaints, referrals, and follow-up inspections.

Establishments with 10 or fewer employees will not be inspected under this program, nor will establishments that have received a comprehensive safety inspection within the past 12 months. These are the only exceptions to inclusion in the program — any other retailers in the Pacific region may be targeted.

This article was originally published in Fashion Counsel.