SA departments failed to inspect freezer

Two government departments failed in their inspection responsibilities after an investigation sparked by the death of a woman at a police training centre, the South Australian ombudsman has found.

In a report tabled in state parliament on Tuesday, Ombudsman Wayne Lines found the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure had not been conducting inspections of government worksites in order to identify maintenance issues.

"(DPTI) considered that its obligation... did not necessarily require it to conduct regular physical site inspections," he said.

"DPTI's failure to conduct regular and meaningful site inspections... created an unreasonable risk to the health and safety of persons using government premises."

Mr Lines found SA police had also failed to ensure that its worksites were regularly inspected under an agreement between departments, which created an "unreasonable risk" to the health and safety of persons using police premises.

The allegations of maladministration were reported to the ombudsman following the death of 54-year-old Debra Summers, who became trapped in a walk-in freezer at a police training centre in the Adelaide Hills in 2016.

Prior to Ms Summers' death, the freezer was not included on a list of items requiring preventative maintenance and its emergency release mechanism was not regularly serviced or tested.

Police said the training centre had not been inspected for about nine years, and that DPTI had also failed to regularly inspect the majority of its other worksites.

SAPOL was earlier this year fined $390,000 over the death of the cook and cleaner, after it pleaded guilty in the SA Employment Tribunal to breaching work safety laws.

Tribunal deputy president Brian Gilchrist said the death of Ms Summers was both unexpected and preventable.

"No one deserves to die at work because of their employer's lack of care," Judge Gilchrist said.

"And there is no penalty that this court can impose that will right the wrong that has occurred."