Notre Dame Fined Over Student's Death in Scissor Lift Tipover

The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported that the University of Notre Dame should have taken steps to prevent the death of a 20-year-old student, who fell 39 feet from a scissor lift last fall. The agency has issued the $77,500 fine for six violations following the four-month investigation into the cause of Declan Sullivan's death.

Sullivan, who was filming a Notre Dame football practice from a scissor lift, was killed when the lift tipped over due to high winds. The commissioner of the Indiana Department of Labor said that Notre Dame students employed as videographers had not been trained to operate the lifts beyond knowing how to lift and lower the machines. Additionally, she said the lifts should not have been in use the day Sullivan died due to a wind advisory issued by the National Weather Service. Top wind gusts on Oct. 27 reached 53 mph, and the manufacturer of the scissor lift recommended the machine not be used in wind speeds exceeding 28 mph, she  said.

Violations and fines for the university include a "knowing violation" along with a $55,000 fine for not fully training student videographers to operate the scissor lifts and for directing them to use the lifts despite the wind advisory, and five "serious violations" that carry a total of $22,500 in fines for the lack of training and issues specific to this lift. According to the report, the lift hadn't been inspected in more than a year and hadn't been serviced as required by the operator's manual. Also, the operator's manual was not stored in a weather-proof box on the lift, and some of the warning labels were missing, faded or weathered.

IOSHA is launching an educational program for schools that use lifts for athletics, band and other events.

For the full report, go to the South Bend Tribune.


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