SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame has asked for more talks with the Indiana agency that fined the school $77,500 for the October accident that killed a student filming football practice atop a hydraulic lift toppled by high winds.
The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued the fine last month, saying the school ignored safety standards that could have prevented Declan Sullivan’s death. Winds were gusting to 53 mph on Oct. 27 when the 20-year-old junior from Long Grove, Ill., went up in the lift.
The school had until Thursday to accept the findings and pay the fines, contest the safety orders or meet with the agency. IOSHA spokeswoman Stephanie McFarland said school representatives met with the agency last week and filed notice Tuesday that they want a formal hearing to discuss the state’s findings.
The request gives the school 45 days to continue its discussions with IOSHA before a hearing would be set before an administrative law judge, McFarland said. She said the formal hearings are common “so that they can understand the specifics of the state’s order and ask questions.”
But McFarland said few cases actually reach the hearing stage and most are resolved earlier. She said the agency’s talks with Notre Dame have so far been productive.
“They’re progressing to what we believe will be an acceptable end,” McFarland said.
Notre Dame spokesman Dennis Brown called the talks “positive and productive.”
“Though the university and IOSHA are near resolution, more time is needed to finalize the agreement,” he said. “Unfortunately, the timelines imposed by statute required filing the notice of contest in order to continue these discussions.”
IOSHA fined Notre Dame for six violations, including knowingly putting its employees in an unsafe situation. Other violations included a failure to make annual, monthly or weekly inspections of the lifts for more than a year; a failure to have the scissor lift serviced as required by the manufacturer; and a failure to have an operator’s manual on the unit. The lift was also missing some warning labels while others were faded.
The state said its investigation ruled out mechanical failure.