Cintas Blames Worker for His Own Death

March 26, 2007
According to Cincinnati-based Cintas Corp., a worker who died March 8 after falling into a dryer at the company's Tulsa, Okla., facility “did not follow established safety rules, which would have prevented [the] tragic accident.”

Although Cintas said that it is working closely with OSHA in the agency's ongoing investigation of the cause of the incident, the company in a statement included excerpts from a letter that Cintas CEO Scott Farmer sent to employees stressing “continued attention to following established training and procedures for safe operations.”

In the excerpts, Farmer said that he was saddened by the incident that claimed the life of Eleazar Torres-Gomez but was even more saddened by the circumstances surrounding his death.

“Unfortunately, [Torres-Gomez] climbed on top of a moving conveyor to dislodge a jam, contrary to all safety training and procedures, and fell into a drier,” Farmer said. “I'm grief-stricken at the loss of a fellow partner and deeply saddened for his family, and for his fellow partners in the facility. It hurts us all.”

Cintas explained that the company has been using standard conveyor belts for years and was not aware of any other accident causing serious injury or fatality as a result of using the machinery. According to reports, Torres-Gomez was dragged into the dryer by a robotic conveyor used to transfer uniforms from washers to dryers.

House Legislator: Cintas Statement is “Disgraceful”

The newly released Cintas statement drew the ire of Rep. Phil Hare, D-Ill., a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor. Hare blasted Cintas for having “the audacity to release a statement blaming Mr. Gomez for his own death.”

“This cynical attempt to deflect attention away from its repeated workplace safety violations is nothing short of disgraceful,” Hare said.

Hare, who was one of the House leaders who sent a letter to OSHA Administrator Edwin Foulke Jr. urging Foulke to call for a full investigation into alleged safety hazards at Cintas, said he reiterates that notion.

“I again call on OSHA to aggressively pursue all the facts surrounding Cintas' handling of this tragedy,” Hare said.

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