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SafeWork insiders question investigation into new RAH worker's death: widow

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The construction union and the widow of a worker killed on the new Royal Adelaide Hospital site say a series of witnesses have contacted them willing to testify against workplace regulator SafeWork over its handling of the investigation into the death of Jorge Castillo-Riffo in 2014.

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Pam Gurner-Hall, whose partner Jorge Castillo-Riffo died from crush injuries on the hospital construction site in 2014, says she has been approached by several former and current construction workers and SafeWork SA staff who are willing to testify at a coroner’s inquest into the death.

She has provided InDaily with a list of grievances attributed to employees of HYLC (the joint venture that managed the construction), the occupational health and safety regulator SafeWork SA and Castillo-Riffo’s direct employer SRG Limited.

She claims the workers approached her after a CFMEU-organised rally – “Justice for Jorge” – at which she spoke last month.

“These are just the people who contacted me the next day,” she said.

At that same rally, Premier Jay Weatherill told the crowd he believed there should be a coroner’s inquest into Castillo-Riffo’s death, and that he would ask for a review into a series of abandoned SafeWork prosecutions since 2010.

A senior prosecutor from the Director of Public Prosecutions has now been seconded to the Crown Solicitor’s Office to undertake the review.

The names of the 10 workers who came forward after the rally have been redacted from the document. InDaily has spoken with two of them, but none have yet commented on the record.

The document contains allegations that the new Royal Adelaide Hospital build was an “unsafe worksite” and that workers had quit because they believed poor safety procedures would lead to a worker’s death there.

It also contains allegations against workplace regulator SafeWork over its handling of the investigation into Castillo-Riffo’s death.

InDaily cannot reveal some of the specific claims for legal reasons.

Last week InDaily revealed SafeWork SA had handed over the prosecution of HYLC to private lawyers because the Crown Solicitor’s Office could not put the case together quickly enough.

SafeWork presented its investigation into his death to the Crown Solicitor’s Office in April 2015.

But about a month later, the government’s lawyers informed SafeWork they had made little or no progress on the case and advised it might be months before they could process it.

SafeWork then asked the CSO to recommend private solicitors and counsel to handle the prosecution – which was sensationally abandoned days before it was due to begin in February.

The regulator has stated that it relied upon the advice received from those solicitors and counsel in deciding to drop the prosecution.

InDaily is not suggesting that the private lawyers acted inappropriately in providing that advice.

InDaily has contacted SafeWork, HYLC and SRC Limited for comment on the latest developments.

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