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Young worker killed on third day on the job; we must demand adequate safety training at work

A 22-year-old man -- Christopher Michael Cantu -- was killed on the job yesterday in Corpus Christi, Texas, when a 2,600-pound metal tank fell on him. It was only his third day on the job.

Though the incident is still under investigation, we know that OSHA has fined Cantu’s employer, Coastal Plating Company, in the past few years.

Too often, new employees are injured or killed on the job. For example, 21-year-old Lawrence Daquan “Day” Davis was killed in August 2012 on his first day as a temporary worker at the Bacardi Bottling Corp. in Jacksonville, Fla. Davis was cleaning glass from under the hoist of a palletizing machine, which stacks cases of Bacardi’s rum, when another employee restarted the palletizer. Davis was crushed to death by the machine.

Bacardi Bottling had failed to train temporary employees on using locks and tags to prevent the accidental startup of machines and to ensure its own employees utilized lock-out/tag-out procedures.

In response to Davis’ death, OSHA chief Dr. David Michaels said, “A worker’s first day at work shouldn’t be his last day on Earth. We are seeing untrained workers – many of them temporary workers – killed very soon after starting a new job. This must stop. Employers must train all employees, including temporary workers, on the hazards specific to that workplace – before they start working. Had Bacardi done so, this tragic loss of life could have been prevented.”

We may not have all of the information yet regarding this week’s death of Christopher Cantu, but we can say that new employees need adequate training on workplace hazards before they are put in harm’s way.

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