The University of Notre Dame is responsible for the death of a student-worker while he was filming football practice on a scissor lift in high winds, according to a report from Indiana OSHA (IOSHA).
IOSHA has fined Notre Dame $77,500 for six safety violations, five serious and one “knowing,” (PDF of citations here) in connection with the death of 20-year-old Declan Sullivan. Sullivan was killed when the lift fell over on a windy day.
The “knowing” citation (equivalent to federal OSHA’s “willful” categorization) was for allowing workers to use the lift in high winds. The penalty for that citation was set at $55,000.
The citation notes that a lift used by Notre Dame had a warning label stating that it should not be used in winds above 28 miles per hour (mph). The National Weather Service had issued a high wind warning for Oct. 27, 2010, predicting sustained winds of 25 to 35 mph with gusts to 45 mph.
IOSHA also issued five serious violations to Notre Dame for:
- not properly training employees in the operation and use of scissor lifts
- not providing a copy of the operator’s manual in the weatherproof box of the scissor lift
- missing warning labels on the lift
- not properly inspecting the lift for over one year, and
- allowing employees to use the lift at various heights when it hadn’t been serviced according to the manufacturer’s preventive maintenance schedule.
The university plans to release results of its own investigation into the fatality in four to six weeks. While IOSHA’s report doesn’t focus on who was responsible for deciding to allow student videographers to use that lift that day, the university’s investigation is expected to include the series of decisions made.
University President, the Rev. John Jenkins, issued a statement saying that “we failed to keep [Sullivan] safe, and for that we remain profoundly sorry.”
Notre Dame is ending its use of lifts to film football practices. Instead, it’s going to install remote-controlled cameras on 50-foot poles.