The partner of a man killed during the construction of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital has revealed she told him to "be careful on the scissor lift" on the morning he died.

Jorge Castillo-Riffo, 54, was fatally crushed while working on a scissor lift at the building site in November, 2014.

Pamela Gurner-Hall, his partner of nearly 14 years, told an inquest into his death on Monday that Mr Castillo-Riffo was “really concerned” about safety practices during construction.

“He had talked to me at length about it,” she said.

“He’d been really nervous for a couple of days, like he kind of almost had a premonition that something was going to go wrong.

“Specifically he talked to me about the lack of knowledge in regards to how this scissor lift was going to be used and he spoke to me of some issues that he’d witnessed on the site.”

Mr Castillo-Riffo was performing “patching” work alone when he became trapped and crushed by the scissor lift.

It is unclear exactly how much time passed between the time he was crushed and the time he was found by a passing worker.

A rescue effort was further delayed when a worker was unable to hit the emergency release button before Mr Castillo-Riffo finally received medical attention.

But he had suffered a serious brain injury and died in the old Royal Adelaide Hospital the following day.

Ms Gurner-Hall said the lift had several design flaws, was inappropriate for the space and should not have been used by a lone worker.

The inquest heard workers had pushed for a wall to be removed to allow a bigger lift inside the confined space, but their request was denied.

In her opening statement on Monday, assisting counsel Kathryn Waite described Mr Castillo-Riffo as an experienced and capable worker.

She questioned whether corners had been cut to speed up the completion of the hospital, which was already well behind schedule.

“Was safety compromised for convenience?” she asked.

“Would his death have been avoided if everyone wasn’t rushing to get the job done, taking risks and making mistakes on the way, all to get the new RAH completed on time?”

SafeWork SA last year dropped its case against Hansen Yuncken Leighton Contractors and SRG Building following advice that a conviction was unlikely.

The inquest continues before Coroner Mark Johns.

By Kathryn Bermingham