The Indiana Department of Labor cited the University of Notre Dame with the most serious safety violation allowable under state law for failing to maintain safe working conditions in connection with the death of Declan Sullivan, a 20-year-old student from Long Grove, Ill.
The university was fined $77,500 for ignoring industry standards that could have prevented the death of Sullivan, a football team videographer who died last year after the hydraulic lift he was using toppled over amid strong winds. The fine marks the end of a near five-month investigation conducted by the state agency, which has classified the accident as a preventable workplace fatality.
“Notre Dame did not establish and maintain conditions of work that were reasonably safe for its employees that were free from recognized hazards that caused or were likely to cause death or serious injury,” according to an OSHA statement.
The agency found Notre Dame had six violations, each of which came with a fine. They are:
• Knowingly exposing its employees to unsafe conditions by directing its untrained student videographers to use the scissor lift during a period of time when the National Weather Service issued an active wind advisory with sustained winds and guests in excess of the manufactured specifications and warnings. $55,000 fine.
• Not properly training the student employees in the operation and use of scissor lifts. $5,000 fine.
• Not doing annual, monthly or weekly inspections on the scissor lift for more than a year. $5,000 fine.
• Not having a scissor lift service as required by the maintenance schedule in the operator’s manual. $5,000 fine.
• Not having an operator’s manual kept in a weather-proof box. $5,000 fine.
• Missing some warning labels and having some labels that were weathered and faded. $2,500 fine.
Sullivan, a 20-year-old film and marketing student, was working as a paid employee of the school's athletic department on Oct. 27, when he went up in an aerial scissor lift to video record the football team's practice.
The National Weather Service had issued a wind advisory for the day, and gusts reached 51 mph about the time of Sullivan's fall. The lift carrying Sullivan crashed through a fence and landed on an adjacent street.
The university announced last week that it has banned the use of hydraulic lifts to film practices and has begun construction of a remote-controlled camera system.