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SAFETY / OSHA - 01/12/09

U.S. Department of Labor, Cintas settle pending federal OSHA cases

OSHA has reached an agreement with Cintas Inc. whereby the company will pay almost $3 million in penalties to resolve six cases currently pending before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. All of the cases involve citations OSHA issued to Cintas for failing to lock out hazardous energy sources on industrial laundry equipment while employees were servicing the equipment. One case arose from OSHA's investigation of a fatal accident in which an employee fell into a dryer while attempting to correct a jammed conveyor.

"This agreement ensures that Cintas employees in federal OSHA states nationwide will receive the protections mandated by OSHA's standards," said acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Thomas M. Stohler. "Cintas also has agreed to a number of other measures that will help create a more safety-conscious corporate culture. This settlement agreement makes such measures binding on the company."

Under the agreement, Cintas will pay 90 percent of the amount originally proposed, and make substantial safety and health enhancements at all of its commercial laundry facilities regulated by federal OSHA. The agreement also requires Cintas to certify that it has implemented immediate interim measures to protect employees working in the wash areas at these Cintas facilities.

The company will retain a team of independent experts, including an auditor who will ensure that the interim controls are effective; an expert in hazard analysis and controls who will review Cintas facilities and recommend permanent controls; and additional experts who will review Cintas' safety and health management systems to recommend improvements to those systems. Those improvements will include hiring additional professional safety and health staff, conducting more frequent internal safety inspections, establishing new systems to examine safety and health complaints and accident trends, and providing increased training to Cintas management and employees. OSHA will continue to inspect Cintas facilities and will enforce the terms of this settlement agreement.

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