SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The New Mexico Environment Department reports that it has entered into a settlement agreement with O’Reilly Auto Parts for alleged violations of the state’s public health order and the Occupational Health and Safety Act that the department says resulted in an unsafe workplace at a Santa Fe store. According to NMED, under the settlement agreement, O’Reilly Auto Parts will pay $79,200 penalties.

NMED states that the department inspected the Santa Fe store located at 4715 Airport Road on July 4, 2020, in response to several citizen complaints. NMED says that it observed that management didn’t require employees to wear face coverings which is a violation of state law, public health orders, and COVID-Safe Practices, and exposed staff and customers to the danger of COVID-19.

Additionally, the store was cited for failing to post signage requiring customers to wear face coverings while inside the store and further endangered employees. During following inspections, NMED reports that store management corrected the violations.

“Failure by employers to protect staff from COVID-19- a known workplace hazard- is unacceptable,” said NMED Cabinet Secretary James Kenney in a press release. “Employers must take their worker protection responsibility seriously or they will face robust enforcement action by the State of New Mexico.”

In a press release, NMED explains that the department’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau is an integral part of the state’s response to COVID-19 and has conducted over 25,000 rapid responses to help businesses take appropriate action when employees test positive. The department also is currently investigating over 200 workplace safety complaints related to COVID-19 and 14 workplace-related COVID-19 deaths.

NMED reports that any penalties collected will go to the state general fund, the primary state fund from which the ongoing expenses of the state government are paid.

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