Cintas Case Study

Cintas Achieves 59% Reduction in Total Incident Rate by Incorporating Ergonomic Solutions

Cintas Achieves Reduction in Incidence Rate with Humantech

With 430 facilities and over 30,000 employees worldwide, Cintas Corporation provides highly specialized services to businesses of all types. The company designs, manufactures, and implements corporate identity uniform programs and provides entrance mats, restroom supplies, tile and carpet cleaning, promotional products,  first aid products, safety and fire protection products, and document management services for about 900,000 businesses.

Humantech assisted Cintas Corporation’s Document Management division in reducing the Total Incident Rate (TIR) by 59% from 2007 to 2012.



The Challenge

Manual material handling is just one of the issues that contributed to the injury rate in the Document Management division of Cintas. This division services companies of all sizes and is responsible for the collection, secure storage, and destruction of documents. Each day, Cintas Partners manage routes of 20 to 30 facilities, collecting confidential documents from executive consoles (secure document waste receptacles) and transporting them for on- or off-site destruction using large bins. 

The manual material handling of bins, weighing upwards of 500 pounds, was one of the highest-risk tasks contributing to the high incident rate. “With our incident rate above the industry average in 2007, it was imperative to implement ergonomics to reduce our injury rates,” says Jay Gaubatz, Safety and Health Manager for Document Management Services.

The Solution

Working alongside Cintas Partners in the field, Humantech consultants were able to identify and analyze high-risk tasks using the Workplace Ergonomics Risk Assessment (WERA), a methodology used to rank-order and prioritize non-cyclical tasks from high-risk to low-risk. The highest risk tasks included:

  • Collecting paper from executive consoles
  • Pushing and pulling shred bins
  • Dumping bags of paper
  • Lifting and lowering steel lift gates

This prioritized list gave Cintas a starting point from which to begin making ergonomic improvements. After job improvement recommendations were provided, Cintas aggressively began implementing company-wide projects beginning with the highest-risk jobs:

1.  Replaced Bags Inside Executive Consoles with Plastic Inserts

At feasible locations, plastic inserts replaced the nylon bags inside executive consoles, the waste collection receptacle, and reduced the ergonomic risk during document collection. When emptying the console, the partner is now able to grab the insert by the handles and lift it out, instead of bending over to grasp the bag. This improvement increased productivity and efficiency, and raised the lifting height of the insert to within the partner’s comfort zone. The task time was also reduced from 60 seconds to 15 seconds per console.

2.  Retrofitted Shred Bins with Casters

Prior to the improvement, partners had to move 500-pound shred bins to a desired location.  Because the bins were designed with only two casters, the force required to tilt and push the bins increased the risk of injury. Working alongside vendors to standardize the design, Cintas mandated that all bins be retrofitted with four casters. This improvement reduced the force required to move the bins and lowered the associated risk.

3.  Replaced Steel Lift Gates with Aluminum Lift Gates

Another priority that was identified was the loading and unloading of a bin onto and off of a truck. Previously, bins were rolled up and down a steel ramp located at the rear of the truck. To use the 127-pound ramp, a partner had to manually pull it out from underneath the truck, unfold it, and set it on the ground.

Cintas’ commitment to providing an injury-free workplace was demonstrated when they replaced all steel lift gates on trucks with lighter aluminum lift gates. Reducing the weight of the lift gate from 127 pounds to 33 pounds reduced the risk from high to low.

The Results

By engaging partners through the trial and implementation of these projects, Cintas Document Management Division reduced its TIR 59% over a five-year period (from 2007 to 2012).  The success is attributed to the dedication and commitment of the Document Management executive leadership team to an injury-free workplace through a well-managed ergonomics program supported by strong policies and the roll-out of high-impact solutions.

“Cintas is widely recognized as one of the world’s leaders in safety and health performance. We are committed to providing an injury-free workplace and we engage our employees to continuously try to improve the safety culture. At Cintas, everybody plays a role in maintaining safety,” says Gaubatz.

It is because of this commitment that Cintas Document Management Services has reduced its TIR by 59% over the past five years.  Although they have come a long way, the journey to providing an injury-free workplace at all Cintas locations continues.

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