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House Panel to Examine Cintas Safety Record

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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 07:32 PM
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House Panel to Examine Cintas Safety Record

Starbucks uses Cintas nationwide even after several deaths and consumer complaints.

April 23, 2008; Page B1

Tulsa, Okla.

Last year, Eleazar Torres-Gomez fell from a conveyor belt into an industrial dryer at a Cintas Corp. laundry here and was killed before anyone realized what happened. The accident prompted the federal government to propose the largest safety-related penalty ever against a service-sector company.

New details about the case -- from internal company memos, Cintas surveillance videotapes and people close to the federal investigation -- indicate that the dangerous practices that led to Mr. Torres-Gomez's death occurred frequently in Tulsa and at other plants operated by Cintas, the biggest uniform supplier in North America.

A person familiar with the probe said U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials believe Cintas workers climbing on moving conveyors and jumping atop stuck laundry were "standard work practices at a number of facilities."

Cintas spokeswoman Heather Trainer denied that it's standard practice. "In fact, every employee at the Tulsa facility, including the receptionists, was trained to never get on an energized conveyor at any time," she said.

On Wednesday, the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections will hold a hearing on how well OSHA is policing employers like Cintas that have multiple facilities across the country. Although other companies will be mentioned, Cintas is expected to be exhibit A, according to people familiar with the hearing. The Democratic controlled committee is investigating allegations that Cintas didn't protect workers at all of its facilities from previously known hazards.

An OSHA spokeswoman said the agency couldn't comment on pending cases.

FULL story at link.

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