Posted on: April 8, 2011 9:21 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Less than a month after receiving several fines totalling $77,500 from the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA), Notre Dame has decided to formally contest the findings from the state investigation. The state investigated whether the school was at fault for the tragic death of videographer Declan Sullivan. The state investigation revealed six different violations regarding the maintence and precautions for the hydraulic scissor lift that collapsed in a storm with Sullivan inside.
The formal notice of contest allows campus administrators to continue talks with state officials, and attempt to find a more reasonable solution (I'm guessing that would involve less money). No specific details from the discussions have emerged, but both sides have reported the initial talks to be positive.
"Notre Dame really is trying to live up to the things they said in the media," IOSHA spokesperson Stephanie McFarland told the Chicago Tribune. "They want to make sure something like this never happens again."
Notre Dame already did install a state-of-the-art videography system. The new cameras have been placed on the end of long booms and can be controlled remotely. There is no longer a need to put a videographer up in any kind of lift evironment. The decisions on the fines were reached after an investigator made 10 visits to the South Bend campus and to take measurements and interview numerous campus officials, including head coach Brian Kelly.
Posted on: March 15, 2011 10:21 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
When Notre Dame starts spring practice, they will be giving a first-run to some brand new videotaping technology. The new remote-controlled videography system was put into place in South Bend as a result of the terrible tragedy that led to the death of Declan Sullivan. Sullivan was killed when the hydraulic scissor lift where he was taping collapsed during a storm.
The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) has fined Notre Dame a total of $77,500 for six different violations that resulted in the tragedy, according to Stacy St. Clair of the Chicago Tribune. The violations add up like this:
• 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.
As mentioned above, Notre Dame has already taken action to eliminate the lifts that caused the tragedy. Sullivan's family expressed their appreciation for the efforts made by the school, and some have even suggested that this could make way for even more advancements in college football videography.
But chances are that most programs will not have the resources to install a state-of-the-art video system in the near future. So the focus of the tragedy returns to the prevention of such accidents by keeping the lifts properly maintained and educating the users on the precautions and regulations. Notre Dame strayed away from such practices, and now it will cost them.
Posted on: December 27, 2010 6:20 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
In the wake of the Declan Sullivan accident that rocked both the Notre Dame campus and the college football world as a whole, Notre Dame announced that it would not be using scissor lifts -- the raised platforms frequently used by football programs to film practices from considerable heights -- until the investigation of Sullivan's death was complete. Nobody raised an eyebrow, as any investigation of an incident this serious should thoroughly examine every factor possible. It would have been worse from both a PR and legal standpoint if Notre Dame had said it wouldn't suspend use of the lifts.
The thing of it is, though, coaches use lifts for a reason: they're enormously useful, and Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly wasn't exactly clamoring to get Sullivan down from the lift before that day's terrible accident. So it's not exactly surprising to see that with Sun Bowl preparation in full swing, the Irish are back to using the lifts, before the Sullivan investigation is complete. Here's a picture from the Chicago Tribune 's Brian Hamilton from earlier today:
Notre Dame would later announce that while the Sullivan investigation is ongoing, it received clearance to use the lift from its office of risk management. This makes sense. If the issue with Sullivan's death was that scissor lifts are inherently unsafe in any weather condition and are liable to kill their occupants at any moment, every other football team in America would have stopped using them too. Nobody has bothered arguing that, however, because it's pretty obvious that the Sullivan accident was caused by the lift being used in substantially higher winds than regulations permit. All across the country, football programs follow regulations in the use of these lifts every day (and have done so for decades) without any incident. If anything, this development from Notre Dame only confirms what was widely suspected: that Sullivan's death was not caused by a random, unforeseeable equipment failure on a catastrophic level, but by misuse of that equipment. As long as Notre Dame uses the lift properly, in all likelihood, a similar accident will never happen again.
The bad news for Notre Dame, then, is that such a development only strengthens any possible wrongful death lawsuit, should the Sullivans go down that road. Again, Notre Dame is openly acknowledging the obvious: using scissor lifts under normal weather conditions is acceptable, but the conditions under which Sullivan was sent up that day were sufficently bad that he (obviously) should not have gone up. It's hard to draw any conclusion from that statement that doesn't directly implicate Notre Dame as liable for Sullivan's tragic death.