Notre Dame starts lift safety program

Updated: August 29, 2011, 12:29 PM ET
Associated Press

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The University of Notre Dame launched a website Friday publicizing the hazards of aerial lifts, part of its settlement with the state over safety violations in the death of a student videographer at football practice last year.

The school launched LiftUpRight.org, a website aimed at promoting aerial lift safety for universities, colleges and high schools. The site emphasizes the need for proper setup of equipment, training for those who use it, awareness of weather conditions and someone taking charge of safety procedures.

"As part of our investigation, we found that a lot of schools did not have specific protocols in place for aerial lifts so our hope is that some of the things we learned from our investigation will help others in higher education and also in high schools know some of the safety measures that need to be in place," university spokesman Dennis Brown said.

The university agreed in June to pay a $42,000 fine for safety violations in the Oct. 27 death of 20-year-old Declan Sullivan of Long Grove, Ill. He was on a hydraulic scissor lift videotaping a football practice when strong winds toppled it.

Notre Dame was originally fined $77,500 and the most serious charge against it was that it knowingly put its employees in an unsafe situation and failed to heed National Weather Service warnings on a day when wind speeds reached 53 mph. Notre Dame and the state reached a settlement in June reducing the charge from a knowing violation to a serious violation. University officials have acknowledged that their safety procedures weren't adequate.

Among the findings by the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration were that Notre Dame failed to maintain safe working conditions or heed National Weather Service warnings.

Notre Dame announced in March that it will no longer use hydraulic lifts for videographers at football practices. It now uses remote-controlled cameras.

Brown said Notre Dame is working with the National Federation of State High School Associations, Collegiate Sports Video Association and the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics to spread the word about the website. Brown said the campaign and the website is a place to start, but it's not a substitute for formal training.

"They really should get training from a certified expert," he said.

A video on the website includes a statement from Sullivan's father, Barry, saying he hopes it will help.

"I cannot bring Declan back, but I can help spread the word on aerial lift safety. Please, if your school uses this equipment, pay attention to this video," he says.

Sullivan's uncle, Mike Miley, said the family is pleased with the campaign.

"We support what they're doing with the site, and we're pleased that the education side of it has begun," he said.

The launching of the safety campaign fulfills Notre Dame's settlement agreement with the state, IOSHA spokesman Chetrice Mosley said.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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