Notre Dame Eliminates Use of Elevated Scissor Lifts Following Student’s Death

Following the death of a 20-year-old student who was filming a football practice when his lift collapsed, Notre Dame announced plans to install a permanent, remote video system for the university’s practice fields to eliminate the need for elevated scissor lifts.

Twenty-year-old Declan Sullivan, a junior from Long Grove, Ill., fell to his death Oct. 27, 2010, when the hydraulic scissor lift he was using collapsed during weather conditions reported to include wind gusts of up to 50 mph. He had been filming the practice for the university’s Department of Athletics and had tweeted his concerns about being in the lift in the wind.

“I said in the days after Declan’s death that we would do everything in our power to make changes to ensure that such an accident does not happen again – here or elsewhere,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president. “This system puts safety at the forefront in a completely new and innovative way.”

Construction began March 8 on the outdoor remote video system, which includes four cameras (one at each practice field) mounted on 50-foot poles. The cameras will be housed in temperature-controlled units, and a fiber-optic network will transmit video to a control room, where members of the athletics video services department will be able to edit and produce various materials for coaches and players. Video department personnel will continue to manually operate cameras from the two permanent structures on the sidelines of the practice fields.

The system is expected to be fully operational when the football team begins spring practice March 23.

The Indiana Occupational Health and Safety Association continues to investigate the October 2010 fatality. Notre Dame also initiated its own internal investigation and will turn over its findings and recommendations to Peter Likins, president emeritus of the University of Arizona and member of National Academy of Engineering, to provide an independent review of the process.

“Investigations and external reviews such as this take time, but I assure you that, when complete, we will issue a public report on the outcome, including information on the events of the afternoon of Oct. 27, any institutional ramifications and recommendations for safety policies in the future,” said Jenkins.

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