Laundry company Cintas Corp. has reached a settlement with OSHA to resolve six safety-related cases, including one that resulted in a worker fatality.
Cintas will pay nearly $3 million to OSHA. All of the cases involve citations OSHA issued to Cintas for failing to lock out hazardous energy on industrial laundry equipment while employees were servicing the machines.
On March 6, 2007, Eleazar Torres-Gomez was killed at an Oklahoma Cintas plant when he fell onto an unguarded conveyor and was dragged into a 300-degree industrial dryer. He was already dead from burns when another employee found him 20 minutes later.
Besides paying the fine, Cintas has agreed to a number of other measures under the settlement, including:
- retaining a team of independent experts who will ensure interim safety measures are in place
- hiring additional safety professionals
- conducting more frequent internal safety inspections, and
- providing increased safety training to management and employees.
The union UNITE HERE and two Democratic members of Congress have criticized the settlement for being too lenient on Cintas.
UNITE HERE opposes downgrading the severity of 43 willful violations and the length of time Cintas has to properly guard the kind of machines which caused the death of Torres-Gomez.
Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) and Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL) say the settlement amounts to a last-minute pardon of Cintas by OSHA under President Bush’s Republican administration.