OSHA has recommended that The Buffalo News be fined $31,500 in connection to a sports reporter's death after he fell from a stairwell at a high school football stadium while covering a game. Since when does a newspaper own and maintain a stadium?
“Reporters were exposed to the hazards of falls and head injuries whenever they used the press box,” said Arthur J. Dube, regional director of OSHA’s Buffalo office, told The Buffalo News. “The newspaper was aware of these conditions. [It] should have prevented the reporters from using the stairs and the press box until they were corrected. That’s my opinion.”
The stairway is pictured at left.
Michael Beebe's story continues:
Margaret M. Sullivan, editor of The News, said she found OSHA’s recommendations “illogical.”
“The News’ role is to cover events, not to fix staircases,” Sullivan said. “Reporters go into all kinds of situations and environments, including countries at war. That’s the very definition of the job.”
Lawrence R. Bayerl, director of human resources and general counsel for The News, said he is studying options for appeal.
John Moriello, president of the New York State Sportswriters Association, was even more critical of OSHA.
“The idea that OSHA can even think of assigning blame to the newspaper is nothing less than stunning,” said Moriello, a former reporter for the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle who now reports for Fox Sports.
“The school district — and the school district alone — bears responsibility for the terrible tragedy that cost Tom Borrelli his life,” Moriello said. “The accident took place on school property, at a facility that they should have been maintaining and upgrading on a regular basis.”