In 36th Incident This Year, Worker Dies After Israeli Construction Site Allegedly Ignored Safety Order

Inspectors suspect contractor ignored a ban on using scaffolding at the site after it was found to have been improperly installed a week prior to the accident

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The scene of the accident in Ra’anana, Israel, October 11, 2019.
The scene of the accident in Ra’anana, Israel, October 11, 2019. Credit: Magen David Adom

A 31-year-old worker from Nazareth was killed on Thursday after falling from a construction site in the central Israeli city of Ra’anana, a week after a safety order was issued banning the use of the scaffolding at the location. The worker, Bilal Arkawi, is the 36th person to die this year in construction work related accidents.

The Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry had issued the order last week due to the fact that the scaffolding was not installed properly, which could lead to an accident. A preliminary investigation into the matter seems to indicate that the worker fell from the scaffolding.

Bilal Arkawi

The Labor Ministry said it has “serious suspicions” that the contractor at the site, D. Hayek, owned by Doron Hayek, ignored the order, which was preceded by another safety order in June. In addition, the workers did not have a supervisor on the site, and many safety failures were found at scene. The police have opened an investigation and the head of the Labor Ministry’s Safety Administration summoned all the managers of the construction site for a hearing.

“At the moment we are mourning the death of the worker who died before his time. At this stage, the incident is under investigation by the Israel Police and naturally we cannot comment on the details of the unfortunate incident,” D. Hayek said.

This is not the first accident connected to the company. In July 2018, an 18-year-old construction worker was critically injured at D. Hayek’s “Garden on the Park” site in Kiryat Yam after falling from the seventh floor. The construction at the site was halted after the accident and numerous safety problems were found.

In 2018 a safety order was issued against the company at another construction site belonging to the company in Bat Yam. The Labor Ministry website says the company’s construction sites have had a total of 10 safety orders issued against it in recent years.

A Magen David Adom ambulance team was called to the site after the accident and declared Arkawi dead at the scene. Labor Ministry representatives also arrived to the scene.

This week, the Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry released a draft of regulations that update and extend the responsibility of the developer and contractor for construction site safety. The draft is to be submitted for approval by the Knesset Labor and Welfare Committee. Current regulations place most of the site safety responsibility on the shoulders of the field manager, while the developer and contractor are not responsible for accidents that occur on their sites.

According to the newly proposed regulations, for the first time, responsibility for safety in some areas will be imposed on the initiatory company and on its “oversight” role, in the hopes that this will ensure that construction does not endanger the safety of workers. In addition, the role of a contractor’s site manager will be designated as being responsible for safety aspects that the work site is not responsible for.

According to a report by the Ministry of Labor, 12.1 killed fatalities per 100,000 workers occur in the construction business. This figure is exceptional compared to other sectors of the economy in Israel, and also compared to EU data.