OSHA Fines N.H. Employer for Safety Hazards

Fire, fall and exit access hazards at a Manchester, New Hampshire muffler shop have resulted in $56,000 in proposed fines from the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Monro Muffler Inc. was cited for a total of 10 alleged violations of safety standards at its Hanover St. facility. The citations and fines follow an OSHA inspection begun Aug. 3 in response to employee complaints.

OSHA’s inspection reportedly found that an emergency exit door in a storage room was padlocked, access to the exit was blocked by a jack stand and access to fire extinguishers was blocked by equipment. In addition, a grinder lacked a protective work rest and a tongue guard.

OSHA cited Monro Muffler for similar hazards at its Williamsville, N.Y., store in February. As a result, these items were classified as repeat violations, for which OSHA proposed $45,000 in fines. OSHA issues repeat citations when an employer has previously been cited for substantially similar hazards and the citations have become final.

The inspection also determined that workers were not trained in fire extinguisher use; oxygen and acetylene gas cylinders were stored incorrectly; a grated trench was not guarded against fire hazards during welding operations; the rotating parts of a lathe were unguarded; and an elevated storage area and runway lacked guardrails. Six serious citations were issued and $11,000 in fines proposed for these items. A serious violation is a condition where there is a substantial possibility that death or serious physical harm can result to an employee.

“Left uncorrected, these conditions expose employees to the hazards of fires, falls, lacerations and not being able to swiftly exit the workplace during a fire or other emergency,” said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA’s New Hampshire area director. “An employer with multiple locations must ensure that occupational safety and health standards are met at all its workplaces.”

Monro Muffler has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.