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Notre Dame fined after investigation into student worker's death

No matter the circumstance, losing a loved one is always a difficult experience especially if the death could have been prevented. In particular, when a person dies in a work-related accident it is especially tragic if the employer had failed to take safety precautions that could have saved the worker's life.

If you recall, a post back in November of last year discussed the tragic death of a student worker at Notre Dame. He had been atop a hydraulic lift filming a football team practice when a strong wind knocked the lift over; he was killed. Now details have been released that show that the school knew about the dangers and still put employees in danger.

According to the state's Occupational Health and Safety investigation, Notre Dame did not ensure that employees had safe working conditions. Much of the evidence points to a disregard to the rough weather conditions, especially dangerous for hydraulic lifts.

The particular type of lift that was in use that day is a scissor lift. These types of lifts are not supposed to be used when there are winds greater than 28 mph. According to the weather that day, warnings by the weather service stated that winds were expected to reach up to 45 mph. But even with those warnings, the school still used the lifts at the outdoor practice.

As a result of the investigation, the school was fined more than $75,000 for safety violations in connection with the student's death. The school has stated that they will be making changes to create a safer work environment but that it will also be conducting a private investigation into the matter.

The student's family hopes that this incident will prevent future accidents from happening in the future. Unfortunately, no amount of fines or citations will ever bring back their loved one.

Source: ESPN online, "Notre Dame at fault in Sullivan's death," Associated Press, 16 March 2011

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