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Cintas to contest record OSHA fine (8/20)

August 20, 2007
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Cintas Corp., the nation's largest uniform supplier, says it will formally contest the $2.78 million in fines it received from OSHA last month following inspections at its Tulsa, Okla., laundry facility, where a worker died in March when a conveyor dragged him into an industrial dryer.

It was the largest-ever fine against a service-industry employer.

While Cintas says it is cooperating with OSHA, the Ohio-based company is defending its safety record.

“While we respectfully disagree with the inspectors’ opinions, we look forward to our chance over the next several weeks to present our insight and evidence to the agency as we work toward a resolution,” said Cintas CEO Scott Farmer.

Farmer said that based on Department of Labor data, the company's incidence of recordable injuries was 20 percent to 30 percent better than that of comparable commercial laundries. However, Cintas declined to disclose its recordable injury rate, according to the Cincinnati Post.

OSHA issued 46 citations, including 42 willful, instance-by-instance citations, following inspection of the Tulsa facility. They allege violations of the OSHA lockout/tagout standard for failure to shut down and to lock out power to the equipment before clearing jams, and failure to train employees that lockout/tagout applies and how to perform it.

“It’s important to note that much of what the inspectors found was in compliance,” said Farmer, who noted that Cintas has created an executive safety advisory council to help identify areas of safety improvement.

The company has also recently been cited and fined for safety violations at facilities in Ohio and Washington, and OSHA has opened investigations in Arkansas and Alabama.

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