The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed $2.78 million in penalties against Ohio-based Cintas Corporation following an inspection into the March 2007 employee death at the Cintas laundry facility in Tulsa, Okla. The employee was killed when he fell into an operating industrial dryer while clearing a jam of wet laundry on a conveyor that carries the laundry from the washer into the dryer.

Cintas is the largest uniform supplier in North America, with more than 400 facilities employing more than 34,000 people. The facility in Tulsa has 160 employees.

"Plant management at the Cintas Tulsa laundry facility ignored safety and health rules that could have prevented the death of this employee," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke Jr.

Forty-two willful, instance-by-instance citations allege violations of the OSHA lockout/tagout standard for the failures to shut down and to lock out power to the equipment before clearing jams, and to train four employees responsible to clear jams that lockout/tagout applies and how to perform the operations. One repeat citation alleges the failure to protect employees from being struck or pinned by the conveyor. Three serious citations allege the failures to protect employees from falls, to have a qualified person inspect the lockout/tagout procedures and to certify the procedures as required.

In a separate case, OSHA issued five repeat and two serious citations with penalties totaling $117,500 for violations of the lockout/tagout and machine guarding standards found at the Cintas facility in Columbus, Ohio. OSHA also has opened investigations in Arkansas and Alabama. Washington, an OSHA State Plan state, has issued four citations with proposed fines totaling $13,650, alleging violations for similar hazards at the Yakima Cintas facility.

A willful violation is one committed with intentional disregard of the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act or plain indifference to employee safety or health. A serious violation is one that could cause death or serious physical harm to employees, and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

Cintas has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to contest the citations and the proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.