LOUISVILLE, Ky. — An investigation is under way to determine how a Cintas Corp. maintenance technician was killed early Friday morning when the industrial dryer he was servicing started.
Kevin Lee Burgess, 55, died from blunt-force trauma and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to local authorities. Police are conducting a death investigation but believe the incident that occurred sometime before 4:45 a.m. Friday was an accident, according to local media reports.
“Cintas is devastated to have learned about the accident that took the life of one of our employee-partners at our uniform rental facility in Louisville overnight,” the company says in a prepared statement. “Our deepest heartfelt sympathy is extended to his family.
“The safety and security of our employee-partners is a priority at Cintas, and we are shaken by this news. The company remains focused on providing support to the family and his co-workers at the facility. A thorough investigation has begun to determine the cause of this accident.”
In March 2007, a Cintas worker was killed when he fell into an industrial dryer at the company’s Tulsa, Okla., plant. The death sparked a federal investigation of Cintas and prompted U.S. lawmakers to introduce laws for even greater federal oversight of worksite safety. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) later fined Cintas for safety violations at the Tulsa plant and five other locations.
Cintas reached an agreement with OSHA pertaining to all automated and semi-automated laundry facilities under OSHA’s federal jurisdiction in December 2008, and agreed to pay $2.76 million in fines.
The Textile Rental Services Association (TRSA) says this latest incident “comes amid steady improvements in the industry’s overall safety record as reflected in TRSA’s latest Safety Survey, which indicated that total recordable injuries and illnesses (TRIR) dropped by 5% from 2009-10.”
“This incident occurred despite substantial improvements and our industry’s investment in safety,” TRSA CEO Joseph Ricci says in an association blog entry. “We should respond by strengthening the industry’s resolve to continue our focus on developing safety cultures and striving for zero tolerance.”
Cintas has worked closely with TRSA to help educate industry colleagues on best practices for accident/illness prevention, according to the association, sponsoring tours of its semi-automated wash aisle facilities (one is scheduled at the company’s Lawrenceville, Ga., plant next week) and participating in various panel discussions on safety issues.