BOSTON – The owner of a Lynn, Massachusetts, tax preparation service faces $136,532 in penalties for prohibiting her employees and customers from wearing masks, failing to ensure employees and customers practiced social distancing, and refusing to implement other safeguards against the coronavirus.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Ariana Murrell-Rosario – doing business as Liberty Tax Service – for willfully failing to develop and implement measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
OSHA opened its March 17, 2021, inspection following a referral from the Division of Labor Standards of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. OSHA found that Murrell-Rosario and Liberty Tax Services:
-Prohibited employees and customers from wearing face coverings in the workplace despite a statewide mask order that mandated the business to require employees and customers to wear masks.
-Required employees to work within 6 feet of each other and customers for multiple hours while not wearing face coverings.
-Failed to provide adequate means of ventilation at the workplace.
-Failed to 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.
“This employer’s willful refusal to implement basic safeguards places her employees at an increased risk of contracting and spreading the coronavirus,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Galen Blanton in Boston. “Stopping the spread of this virus requires business’ 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.
On March 12, 2021, OSHA launched a national emphasis program focusing enforcement efforts on companies that put the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting the coronavirus. The program also prioritizes employers that retaliate against workers for complaints about unsafe or unhealthy conditions, or for exercising other rights protected by federal law.