The University of Notre Dame has been cited for violating Indiana safety laws when a student employee fell to his death in October. The student, who was working for the school, was ordered to videotape a football practice from a scissor lift during a wind storm. A four-month investigation by the Indiana Department of Labor concluded that an unidentified athletic-department supervisor knowingly placed at risk the life of the student, Declan Sullivan, by instructing him to ascend 35 feet in the lift amid wind gusts the National Weather Service had warned could reach 60 miles per hour.
The student, who was 20 years old, stood on top of the lift in strong winds on the afternoon of October 27th. He was obviously scared since he sent Tweets to friends expressing fear for his life. Minutes after sending the message, the lift collapsed. Two other students who had been dispatched on top of separate lifts quickly came down following the incident. The investigation found evidence that overwhelmingly demonstrated the University had made “a decision to utilize its scissor lifts in known adverse weather conditions.” Lori Torres, a state Department of Labor commissioner, described the “knowing citation” issued against Notre Dame as “the most serious safety violation.”
Notre Dame was charged with six safety violations and was fined a total of $77,500. In a statement, Notre Dame President John I. Jenkins reiterated his concession of last November that “we failed to keep [Declan Sullivan] safe, and for that we remain profoundly sorry.” The state investigation found that University officials had failed to service the lifts, train students who used them and follow safety instructions, including keeping operating manuals aboard. Barry and Alison Sullivan, the parents of the student who was killed, expressed the hope that other schools would follow Notre Dame’s lead in halting use of the hydraulic lifts.
Source: Wall Street Journal
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