OSHA Fines Employer for Prohibiting Face Masks, Social Distancing
A Massachusetts business that prohibited employees from wearing face masks while making them work within six feet of each other and customers faces more than $100,000 in fines, OSHA said.
The agency announced $136,532 in penalties against Liberty Tax Service of Lynn, Massachusetts and its owner, Ariana Murrell-Rosario, after an investigation.
OSHA said the business willfully failed to develop and implement measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
OSHA began its investigation in March 2021 after receiving a referral from state labor officials.
The investigation determined that Murrel-Rosado and Liberty Tax Services:
- Prohibited employees and customers from wearing face coverings in the workplace despite a statewide mask mandate
- Required employees to work within six feet of each other and customers for multiple hours while not wearing face coverings
- Failed to provide adequate means of ventilation at the workplace
- Did not implement controls such as physical barriers, pre-shift screening of employees, enhanced cleaning, and other methods to reduce the potential for person-to-person transmission of the virus
The alleged violations took place despite OSHA issuing employer guidance on protecting workers and preventing the spread of COVID in the workplace.
“This employer’s willful refusal to implement basic safeguards placed her employees at an increased risk of contracting and spreading the coronavirus,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Galen Blanton.
“Stopping the spread of this virus requires business’s support in implementing COVID-19 prevention programs, and ensuring that staff and customers wear face coverings and maintain physical distance from each other.”
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
For more information, contact CBIA’s Phillip Montgomery (860.244.1982).
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