Ignoring Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s public health order to combat the spread of COVID-19 will cost an auto parts store in south Santa Fe tens of thousands of dollars.
O’Reilly Auto Parts has agreed to pay $79,200 in penalties for violations of New Mexico’s public health order and the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the state Environment Department announced Tuesday.
After receiving several complaints, the department conducted an inspection on July 4 of the O’Reilly Auto Parts store at 4715 Airport Road.
“During that inspection, NMED observed that management did not require employees to wear face coverings — a violation of state law, public health orders and COVID-Safe Practices — thereby exposing staff and customers to the imminent danger of COVID-19,” the department said in a news release. “The store was also cited for failing to post signage requiring customers to wear face coverings while inside the store, further endangering employees.”
During subsequent inspections, the department observed that store management had corrected the violations, the news release states.
“Failure by employers to protect staff from COVID-19 — a known workplace hazard — is unacceptable,” Cabinet Secretary James Kenney said in a statement. “Employers must take their worker protection responsibility seriously or they will face robust enforcement action by the State of New Mexico.”
An employee at the auto parts store declined to comment and referred inquiries to O’Reilly’s corporate office in Missouri.
Mark Merz, the company’s vice president of investor relations, financial reporting and planning, said O’Reilly’s has a companywide policy “to fully comply with all state, federal and local ordinances related to COVID.”
Asked whether the store on Airport Road had violated that policy, Merz declined to comment.