A federal safety agency is investigating Thursday’s industrial accident in Mattituck that killed a 30-year-old Southold man, authorities said.
Andrew Leone, an employee for Romeo Dimon Marine Service, was killed about 1:20 p.m. when the bucket of a skid-steer loader fell off and struck his head at a work site on Sound Avenue near Lipco Road, authorities said.
Mr. Leone suffered “severe head trauma” in the accident and the Mattituck Fire Department rescue squad was called to the site and assisted.
“We’ve sent a compliance officer out and we’re currently investigating,” said Tony Ciuffo, Long Island area director for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which regulates workplace safety and health. Mr. Ciuffo added that the company — open approximately since 2009 — has no previous citations from the agency, though no inspections have ever been performed.
“We wouldn’t automatically inspect an employer,” he said, unless it was part of a specific agency program — such as checking on construction falls — or OSHA was given a reason to by a local municipality or other organization.
“We are looking at the ownership of the machine,” Mr. Ciuffo added, though he declined to say who owned the loader.
A Romeo Dimon representative on Friday said only that the vehicle was not owned by his company.
(Click here for skid-steer loader photos.)
OSHA investigators have up to six months to issue any citations, should the investigation warrant such, Mr. Ciuffo said.
Caroline Seifert, an office manager at Seifert Construction across Sound Avenue, said she was preparing her lunch Thursday afternoon when “a guy came over in a panic, saying, ‘Call 911, quick. My cell phone is broken.’ I ran upstairs, called 911, and within a minute I heard the sirens,” she said. “When I was outside, he told me a bucket fell and hit the guy in the head.”
The incident is being investigated as an accident and the vehicle’s operator, Steven Romeo, is not criminally responsible, police said.
Mr. Leone, who had attended Southold High School, previously worked as a service technician for a Southold propane company.
Mr. Ciuffo said OSHA has investigated similar accidents to what’s reported to have happened Thursday in Mattituck.
Dr. Dennis Murphy, a professor of agriculture safety and health at Penn State, said being crushed by a skid-steer’s bucket or arms is the most common cause of fatal accidents involving the machine, which is versatile and popular in agricultural and non-agricultural uses.