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University responds to IOSHA findings

Douglas Farmer | Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Notre Dame respects the investigation the Indiana Occupational Health and Safety Administration (IOSHA) released Tuesday and will examine the findings regarding the October death of Declan Sullivan, University President Fr. John Jenkins said.

Sullivan died Oct. 27 after the scissor-lift from which he was filming football practice fell. He was a student videographer for the football team.

The six violations include one “knowing” violation with a $55,000 fine and five “serious” violations with fines summing $22,5000.

“Notre Dame has great respect for the thorough and professional manner in which IOSHA officials have conducted their investigation,” Jenkins said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon. “We will study the details very carefully and take the actions necessary to protect the ongoing safety of our students and staff.

“None of these findings can do anything to replace the loss of a young man with boundless energy and creativity. As I said last fall, we failed to keep him safe, and for that we remain profoundly sorry.”

Irish football coach Brian Kelly said the football team continues to remember Sullivan and his contributions to the program.

“Declan was a wonderful member of our football family and is missed to this day,” Kelly said. “We all continue to both grieve and keep his family and friends in our thoughts and prayers. I’m sure the University will use the findings from the state to enhance the investigation into this tragedy.”

Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves has led the Notre Dame investigation into the accident since October.

“The IOSHA findings are very helpful as we begin to conclude our own comprehensive investigation,” Affleck-Graves said. “As part of the agency’s review process, we will meet with officials in the next 15 days. We expect that our report will include information gathered through the IOSHA investigation as we focus on all factors that contributed to the accident, including the series of decisions made on that day. We have committed to making a report of our investigation public and will do so once it is complete and we have finalized our review with IOSHA, which we expect to be in four to six weeks.”

In addition to the safety report, IOSHA announced the beginning of an educational initiative aimed at universities, colleges and high schools currently using hydraulic lifts to film athletics, band performances or theatrical performances. A letter sent to schools across the state, as well as to the NCAA and the Indiana High School Athletic Association, urges employers to “review their use of lifts in these settings.”

Jenkins said Notre Dame hopes to aid the initiative with its own findings.

“We also are very interested in the IOSHA educational effort and have every intention of being a part of that to share what we learn,” Jenkins said.