The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) cited a Missoula business, Rick's Auto Body, for nine serious violations of workplace safety and health standards relating to an accident that took the life of one of it's employees.

OSHA Area Director of the Billings Area Office Jeff Funke outlined the nine violations on Thursday, November 21 that resulted in fines $51,100 as the result of an inspection not long after the fatal accident in August.

"We found a variety of violations," Funke said. "Some were not related to the incident in which the employee, Bruce Hall was killed. The other items that were noted centered around the handling and use of flammable liquids, and many of them had a contributing factor to the fatality. The most notable item was the lack of grounding and bonding when transferring flammable liquids.You bond the two containers to each other so there's not a potential for a spark or a static charge, you want to equalize that, and then you have to ground the source container so you can't have a spark."

Funke said the $51,100 in proposed fines are for serious and potentially life-threatening dangers in the workplace.

"OSHA issues a serious violation when the noted hazard has the ability to cause death or permanent disability," Funke said. "Unfortunately, in this case, we did have a fatality. These are proposed citations. The employer, Rick's Auto Body, does have the ability to set up a meeting with me and we can discuss the merits of the citations, we can discuss what they've done to correct the violations, and we can talk about the penalty amount."

Funke said the management of Rick's Auto Body has been fully cooperative throughout the OSHA investigation.

"The employer does have rights and we have to work within our jurisdiction," Funke said. "I have not yet received a reaction to the proposed citation, but I'm very optimistic that they'll come in and they'll show me they've corrected the violations, and hopefully we'll be able to work this out at the lowest level possible."

The company has 15 business days to comply with OSHA's requests and directives.

Funke said there is a valuable free resource that OSHA provides to small businesses called the Montana Department of Labor and Industry Safety Bureau.

"Any Montana employer with 500 or fewer employees can call them for a free audit," Funke said. "They do the same thing the federal OSHA does, but they don't issue penalties."

OSHA Area Director of the Billings Area Office Jeff Funke