Feds Investigating Fatal Texas Fall

OSHA is investigating the death of a plumber who died from a skull fracture he received when he fell approximately 15 feet while installing a heating vent at Steve and Sons Inc., a door manufacturing facility in San Antonio, Texas.

Richard Tristan, 53, and a co-worker at plumbing contractos Carley and Bailey were suspended in a box cage held above the concrete floor of the Steve and Sons facility by a forklift. They had finished installing the heating vent when Tristan leaned on the door of the cage, which swung open, causing him to tumble to the floor. According to the forklift operator, the forklift was in park when Tristan fell.

A pin secured the cage door and had a makeshift protective device to prevent the pin from being knocked out, according to the police report. Police did not know if the pin was malfunctioning or broken, or if Tristan opened the door for some reason.

Tristan's death is the eighth fatal fall in the Central Texas area in 2002, according to OSHA's regional office in Austin. In the Austin and San Antonio areas, there were nine fatal falls in 2000 and seven in 2001.

"Falls contribute heavily to the fatality statistics" for the area, said Elizabeth Slatten, assistant director of the regional OSHA office. "We are trying to bring that down through local emphasis programs on falls and outreach efforts."

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