Deadly day on Israeli construction sites as 3 workers fall to their deaths

Campaigners say ‘ongoing lawlessness’ in the industry and ‘multi-system failures’ are leading to deaths of dozens of workers every year, often Palestinian or foreign laborers

File: A construction site in Petah Tikva where three workers were seriously injured in a fall, June 14, 2018 (Roy Alima/Flash90)
File: A construction site in Petah Tikva where three workers were seriously injured in a fall, June 14, 2018 (Roy Alima/Flash90)

Three construction workers fell to their deaths in work accidents Monday, bringing the total number of fatalities in similar incidents to 27 in 2018.

In a similar period last year 19 workers died on construction sites, marking a 43 percent rise in the number of deaths, excluding passers-by, the Haaretz daily reported.

On Monday morning two workers fell from scaffolding on the 15th floor of a site in the town of Rosh Ha’ayin. The two men were Palestinian residents of the West Bank. Police have opened an investigation, and four people have been detained including the contractor, the foreman and the safety director on the site.

Later on Monday a construction worker from China fell while plastering in the central Israel town of Lod.

A worker works on a rooftop at a construction site in Jerusalem, August 5, 2015 (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Reuven Ben Shimon, founder of the accident prevention forum, said that stricter regulation is required to prevent further fatalities, and that the deaths of construction workers is taking a toll on the economy.

“The bloody price of the construction industry attests to the ongoing lawlessness and helplessness of the enforcement authorities and the Israeli government, which does not lift a finger in the face of the carnage of construction workers,” said Ben Shimon.

“This is a national failure that exacts victims and the heavy economic price of more than NIS 4.5 billion paid out every year by taxpayers’ to the victims and their families,” he told Haaretz.

Ben-Shimon also noted that 70% of injuries in the construction industry, ranging from moderate to fatal, were the direct result of a fall.

Hadas Tagari, who established the coalition against construction site accidents, described the deaths as the result of a “multi-system failure.”

“The police, whose responsibility it is to investigate, say that the safety manager does not give the appropriate professional evaluation. The State Attorney’s Office, for its part, says that the investigations are conducted negligently and therefore there is difficulty in submitting indictments,” Tagari told Hadashot news.

“And the courts, when there is an indictment and a conviction years after the accident, asks why the indictment wasn’t filed after a year.”

MK Eyal Ben-Reuven, a member of the Subcommittee on Construction Accidents, called on the government to act.

“We have to issue immediate regulations for the covering of high-rise buildings with safety netting,” he told Haaretz.

“There also should be mandatory regulations for scaffolding. It exists in other countries and it’s time for it to be applied here.”

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