An inquest into the death of a construction worker in November 2014 has heard that pressure to complete the new Royal Adelaide Hospital on time and within the budget may have contributed to the compromised safety and corner cutting that resulted in the accident that claimed the life of Jorge Castillo-Riffo.
The 54 year old man was crushed whiled working on a scissor lift at the Royal Adelaide Hospital site.
The coroner was told that safety standards on the site were seriously lacking,
“Jorge Castillo-Riffo died because he went to work,”
“How is it that in this day and age, with all we know about risk analysis and safety requirements in the workplace, that we still have people like Mr Castillo-Riffo who never get to go home from work?” assisting counsel Kathryn Waite said.
She went on to state that the man expressed his concern over the scissor lift. He had said he was “very nervous” about using it in a confined space but it was common to make decisions to keep work going on the site, Ms Waite went on to explain,
“Decisions to keep the work moving were not uncommon … workers would be forced to move out of the way of cranes,” she said.
She said it was no surprise the victim had expressed displeasure at his workspace,
“The full extent of the entrapment and crushing risk involved in this work were not recognised at the time of the incident,” she said.
“If they had been recognised then one would have hoped that alternatives would have been considered and implemented.
“You might think it would have been reckless to proceed in circumstances where an entrapment risk had been identified.”
She also explained to the inquest that the worker was trusted and experience, and that his death had occurred during high risk work.
Ms Waite said there was little gap between the overhead rail of the lift and a work platform, which gave very little room for error. A bigger lift could not have been used in the space unless gyprock was removed and workers given permission.
Waite also raised the question about whether safety was compromised because of the small amount of work that needed to be completed in the area.
At the time of his death, Mr Castillo-Riffo had been working alone. The coroner was told that had a spotter been present, his chances of surviving would have been better. Find out more at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-19/scissor-lift-death-new-rah-inquest/9562632