University used lifts despite "known adverse weather conditions"

The Indiana Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it is citing the University of Notre Dame with the most serious safety violation allowable under Indiana law, following the death of a student employee who fell from a scissor lift while videotaping a football practice.

Decland Sullivan, who was 20 years old at the time of his death, was killed on Oct. 27, 2010 after a scissor lift he was on was toppled in high winds.

“We’ve issued a knowing citation, which indicates the most serious safety violation,” said Department of Labor Commissioner Lori Torres. “The evidence overwhelmingly demonstrated that the university made a decision to utilize its scissor lifts in known adverse weather conditions.”

The agency also cited Notre Dame with five other serious safety violations, including failure to properly train the student employees in how to operate a scissor lift. In all, fines amounting to $77,500 were levied against the university.

Torres said her agency also will launch a statewide education and outreach initiative directed toward universities, colleges and high schools. “Scissor and other lifts are used by many athletic and band programs nationwide to videotape practices and broadcast events. We want to ensure that they are only being used by trained operators in safe conditions.”

The Indiana DOL sent a letter to a number of associations around the state to urge high schools, colleges and universities to review their use of scissor lifts in athletic and band events.