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Contractors face trial over death at new RAH site

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The grief-stricken widowed partner of a man who was crushed by equipment at the new Royal Adelaide Hospital construction site fears he will never be given justice.

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Jorge Castillo-Riffo, 54, received crush injuries to his head, neck and back after he became trapped between a scissor lift and a concrete slab above him in November 2014.

Hansen Yuncken Pty Ltd, CPB Contractors and SRG Building (Southern) Pty Ltd have been accused by SafeWork SA of failing to comply with a health and safety duty which exposed Castillo-Riffo to risk of death or serious injury.

The contractors will face trial in February next year after pleading not guilty in South Australia’s Industrial Relations Court today.

Each faces a maximum fine of $1.5 million if convicted of the category-two offence.

Speaking outside court, Pam Gurner-Hall said no outcome could bring justice for her partner.

“In all honesty, they’re paying more for their barristers and QCs and solicitors than what they would be paying out in a fine,” she said.

“That, to me, is seriously insulting.”

Gurner-Hall said the length of the court proceedings was deeply frustrating as it had prevented a potential coronial inquest from going ahead.

But while an inquest would allow her partner’s story to be told, it would not lead to criminal penalties.

“For Jorge, there’s absolutely no justice in this. There’s none,” she said.

“The closest thing that we can get to anything that looks like justice is clarity and transparency, accountability and then legacy.”

The State Government has said scissor lifts are unlikely to be used again at the hospital construction site after being linked to another fatal accident this year.

Stephen Wyatt, 63, died in February when he became trapped between a lift and the head of a doorway.

The $2 billion hospital is the single largest infrastructure project in the state’s history but has been riven by industrial disputes and accidents.

Counsel for SafeWork SA, Tracy Riddle, told the court the prosecution would present a lot of expert evidence and hear from many witnesses.

Industrial Magistrate Michael Ardlie has set the trial for 10 days commencing February 13.

-AAP

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