North Carolina Department of Labor and company officials confirmed on November 5 that a 39-year-old worker at a Raleigh recycling facility suffered fatal personal injuries in a work-related accident on the night of November 3.


The labor department’s Occupational Safety and Health Division has launched an investigation into the death of Simon Martinez, a contract employee at Sonoco Recycling.


The death is the second one at a North Carolina Sonoco facility within a span of just over two months. On August 26, a man operating a forklift at a Salisbury facility died after being crushed by 1,600 pounds of baled cardboard, according to Labor Department spokesman Neal O’Briant.


Sonoco corporate spokesman Robin Montgomery said that there were no witnesses for the fatal November 3 accident, which took place around 9:30 p.m. The company is based out of Hartsville, South Carolina.


Montgomery said that Martinez had been operating a forklift, but was not on it at the time of the accident.


O’Briant said that a state inspector was sent to the facility shortly after the accident occurred after being notified of a fatality. He said the employer is required by law to report a fatality within eight hours.


U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration records say that the Raleigh Sonoco facility was fined $1,900 in October 2008 for six violations, three of them serious, after a scheduled inspection. The fine was later reduced to $1,330 and the case was closed.


On November 3, the N.C. Department of Labor released statistics showing the rate of injury and illness among the state’s private industry seeing a decrease to a historic low in 2009.


The 2009 rate of 3.1 cases per 100 full-time workers was a decrease from 3.4 in 2008.


The department said the state’s rate is below the national average.

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