Company, loved ones mourn victim of workplace casualty

Aug. 28, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

When Martin Davis was killed on the job Monday at Lee Iron and Metal, his death shocked many people — including his brother-in-law, Scot Carpenter.

“It’s an unfortunate accident that never should have happened,” Carpenter, the company’s president and general manager, said Tuesday. The family-run company also issued a statement and asked to otherwise be allowed to grieve privately.

“Our deepest heartfelt sympathy goes out to the family, friends and co-workers of Martin Davis,” the firm said in the statement. “There is a void in our life that will remain forever.”

Davis, 50, reportedly was killed when he stepped off of a forklift and was a large bale of copper wiring fell on him. He was the company’s post consumer operations manager and was married to Sharon Cohen Davis, whose father is L.I. “Poly” Cohen, a Sanford city councilman and former CEO of Lee Iron and Metal.

Davis’s funeral will be at 4 p.m. Thursday at Rogers-Pickard Funeral Home, and the family will receive friends of Davis, who was active with Temple Theatre and the San-Lee Rotary Club, following the service.

As is the case in all workplace deaths, the N.C. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health division is investigating.

Dolores Quesenberry, who is with the labor department, said investigations into workplace fatalities generally take three to four months, and that investigators have already visited the metal recycling company located at 2219 S. Horner Blvd.

“At this stage of the investigation, they’re trying to gather any evidence, including photographs, and they’ll interview employees and witnesses,” Quesenberry said, adding that the contibuting factors to the accident are not yet clear.

Lee Iron and Metal has been inspected by the state three times in the last five years, not counting the current investigation, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, including planned visits in 2009 and 2011 and an unplanned inspection in 2010 triggered by an employee complaint. According to the department of Labor, that 2010 inspection found one non-serious safety violation that didn’t result in any fines.

The 2011 inspection found nine violations and the company was fined $5,875, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. There had been no further inspections, either planned or triggered by complaints, until now.

“We have an excellent safety record,” Carpenter said. “We have an excellent safety director and excellent safety programs.”

Between January and June, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, 24 workers in North Carolina died from injuries sustained while at work. In 2012, 35 North Carolina workers were killed on the job.