MONROE COUNTY, N.Y. — Robert Fallone Jr., a 56-year-old Chili man, died Nov. 7 in a construction accident on Bellaqua Estates Drive in Chili.
Fallone Jr., an independent contractor, was digging a trench to access a sewer line in the area when the 15-foot-deep trench collapsed and buried him, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.
Emergency responders arrived at the scene shortly before 9:30 a.m. to rescue the worker, but tragically were not able to save his life. Rescue crews recovered his body after 5 p.m. No responders were hurt in the process.
Fallone Jr. owned The Inn on Broadway in downtown Rochester, and the attached restaurant, Tournedos Steakhouse, according to a local news report. He was also a dentist and owner of Bellaqua, LLC.
Town Supervisor David Dunning told the outlet that Fallone built homes all across the Town of Chili and made the community a better place.
COMMENTARY ON THE ROBERT FALLONE JR. ACCIDENT IN NEW YORK
I am deeply disturbed to learn of Mr. Fallone’s terrible accident. How horrific to be buried alive? I cannot imagine the distress and deep remorse his family and friends must feel in the wake of the tragic, unexpected loss of his life. Even with a cursory reading of the news report, it is obvious that Mr. Fallone was highly involved in his community with a large network of influence. My sincere condolences go out to his family, friends, and associates. I unfortunately have no doubt his premature loss will have far reaching ramifications.The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires stringent safety protocols to be observed for any trench more than five feet deep, unless the excavation will be conducted in stable rock. To dig a trench to the depth of this one, a protective system consisting of sloping or benching the trench walls; shoring the trench walls with supports; shielding the trench walls with a durable metal trench box; and using a ladder, stairway, or ramp to enter and exit the box should be designed and implemented for safety. Unfortunately, the details officials released do not indicate whether established safety standards were being adhered to, and if they weren’t, who is responsible. A detailed investigation must be conducted to find the answers to these pertinent questions.
Failing to implement required safety standards is not uncommon. Between 1992 and 2006, 759 workers were killed in trenching and excavation accidents—an average of 54 per year. The number of annual fatalities has decreased in recent years to around 20 per year. However, in 2016 alone, more than 30 excavation workers were buried alive in trench collapses. Most of these fatal accidents could have been prevented with proper protections in place. As a concerned citizen, I have a duty to raise public awareness concerning the necessity of workplace safety and believe reporting and commenting on these issues pressure business owners into making their workplaces more secure for their employees.
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