The owner of a Massachusetts tax preparation business faces more than $136,000 in federal fines for allegedly prohibiting employees and customers from wearing face coverings and failing to follow other guidelines meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Ariana Murrell-Rosario, owner of Liberty Tax Service in Lynn, after an inspection of the business.
“This employer’s willful refusal to implement basic safeguards places her employees at an increased risk of contracting and spreading the coronavirus,” OSHA Regional Administrator Galen Blanton said in a statement. “Stopping the spread of this virus requires businesses’ support in implementing COVID-19 prevention programs, and ensuring that staff and customers wear face coverings and maintain physical distance from each other.”
The business was also cited for failing to provide adequate ventilation, failing to implement controls such as physical barriers or enhanced cleaning methods to reduce the potential transmission of the virus.
Murrell-Rosario on Wednesday told The Daily Item of Lynn that she follows National Institute For Safety and Health guidelines, though those guidelines include wearing a mask. She said, falsely, “masks have high loads of various pathogens on them" and wearing them puts employees at risk of HIV, herpes and hepatitis C. There is no evidence for this claim, while there is evidence that masks work to prevent COVID-19 infection.
She plans to contest the fines.