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Uniform supplier to appeal $2.78M OSHA fine


CINCINNATI--Uniform supplier Cintas Corp. plans to appeal a $2.78 million penalty that federal safety regulators have proposed the company pay because of 42 willful safety violations safety inspectors found in a plant where a worker was killed in March.

The penalty is among the largest that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed and is the largest ever against an employer in the service sector, according to an OSHA spokeswoman.

Eleazar Torres Gomez, who worked at the Cincinnati-based company's laundry facility in Tulsa, Okla., was killed in March when he fell into an operating industrial dryer while trying to clear a conveyor belt that was jammed with wet laundry. Cintas is the leading supplier of uniforms in North America.

An inspection of the facility after the fatality led to 42 citations that alleged, among other things, willful violations of OSHA's lockout/tagout standard on shutting down and locking out power to equipment before clearing jams. OSHA also cited Cintas for failing to train four employees responsible for clearing jams.

"Plant management at the Cintas Tulsa laundry facility ignored safety and health rules that could have prevented the death of this employee," said Edwin G. Foulke Jr., assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, in a statement.

In a press release, Cintas Chief Executive Officer Scott Farmer said the company "respectfully" disagrees with the OSHA inspectors' report and plans to meet with the agency to resolve the case. Mr. Farmer also asserted that the inspectors found that the plant was largely in compliance with safety regulations.