Congressmen Ask For Probe Into Cintas Dryer Death

Congressmen say OSHA warned that special protection was needed for equipment used at Tulsa plant.

TULSA, Okla. (AP) – Five congressmen called for a nationwide investigation of machinery safety hazards at the nation's largest uniform service following the death of a worker who got caught in a dryer at the Tulsa plant.

Cintas Corp. employee Eleazar Torres-Gomez died March 6 when he was dragged by a conveyor into a dryer and became trapped for at least 20 minutes. The dryers can reach a temperature of 300 degrees.

In a letter to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Assistant Secretary Edwin G. Foulke Jr., the congressmen allege the death could have been prevented because a 2005 OSHA memo warned that special protection was needed for the type of equipment used at the Tulsa plant.

The March 9 letter also suggests that Cintas knew about reports of hazards at the Tulsa facility.

The letter was signed by Reps. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif.; Phil Hare, D-Ill.; Tim Bishop, D-N.Y.; Donald Payne, D-N.J., and Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H. All are members of a House subcommittee that deals with workplace issues.

The death of Torres-Gomez was the second serious incident within Cintas in two weeks, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters said. In February, an employee's arm was shattered in a washing machine in Yakima, Wash., the union said.


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