As expected, the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration released its findings from a four-month investigation into the death of videographer Declan Sullivan Tuesday morning. And, as expected, the school was found to have committed a handful of safety violations that directly attributed to Sullivan’s death.
In the report, IOSHA cited six “serious violations” committed by Notre Dame on the October day that the hydraulic lift in which the 20-year-old Sullivan was filming a football practice toppled over in winds that were gusting in excess of 50 miles per hour. As a result of “[k]nowingly exposing its employees to unsafe conditions”, Notre Dame was fined $77,500. The Chicago Tribune reports that it’s the largest fine handed out to an Indiana school in at least five years.
In a statement, IOSHA said that “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.”
• 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.
The parents of Sullivan, who have been very supportive of Notre Dame in the aftermath of the late October accident, released a statement regarding IOSHA’s report. Here it is, in its entirety:
We appreciate the thorough investigation by the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) concerning the circumstances surrounding the death of our son, Declan. This report is an important step in preventing future accidents, but its findings do not change the fact that Declan is not with us.
Our family supports the efforts by the University of Notre Dame to halt the use of hydraulic lifts to film football practices and install remote-controlled cameras. We are confident that Notre Dame will address the additional issues raised in the IOSHA report.
It is our sincere desire that universities, high schools and other institutions that use these lifts take to heart that accidents such as these are preventable and can be avoided if the designated safety measures are taken.
We are grateful for the respect shown us over the past several months by everyone connected with Notre Dame. The University has maintained an open line of communication throughout this period and has provided timely answers to our questions.
Finally, our family remains thankful to the many individuals who have expressed their condolences in countless ways. We would like to express gratitude for the donations to the Declan Drumm Sullivan Memorial Fund and we continue to work with Notre Dame and others to find a fitting way to memorialize Declan’s life.
We appreciate continued respect for our privacy as we focus on dealing with the loss of our son.
Alison and Barry Sullivan
At the time of this post, Notre Dame has not yet issued a response to the report, although that’s expected to come at some point today.