Leadership and the Importance of Accountability Hand-in-Hand

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This past April, the findings from two separate accidents from very high-profile organizations were released within days of each other. Both accidents were similar in that each occurred in what could be described as a regular training session that resulted in the death of a single individual. While the investigation results were also similar in the sense that they both cited “lack of oversight and procedures” as the primary cause, the resulting accountability of those determined to be responsible could not have been more different. First, the University of Notre Dame released findings of their investigation of an accident where a student member of the football team’s video department was killed last fall. He was filming a Notre Dame football practice when the 40-foot lift he was using fell over in 50 mph winds. The incident received widespread publicity in the days following the accident with questions raised as to why the student was allowed on the platform under the windy conditions, especially since just a day earlier, similar gusty conditions had forced the football team to practice indoors. According to the Notre Dame report:

Notre Dame said that football staff responsible for advising whether it was safe to practice outside used out-of-date weather information the day a student videographer fell to his death when the hydraulic lift he was on toppled over in high winds. The university said its investigation found “the accident was caused by a confluence of unrelated events and issues”—among them a failure to provide football staff a way of monitoring wind speed during practices. University officials acknowledged that their procedures and safeguards weren’t adequate but said they couldn’t find anyone to blame for 20-year-old Declan Sullivan’s death. “No one was monitoring wind speeds when the lift blew over, but it wasn’t anyone’s job to do that,” executive vice president John Affleck-Graves said. The Rev. John Jenkins, the university president, said, “We...
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