Company Operating Site of Tel Aviv Collapse Has Alarming History of Accidents, Safety Violations

Over the past six months, three serious accidents occurred at different Danya Cebus sites. Safety violations were discovered at other sites, one of which resulted in the launching of a criminal investigation against senior executives in the firm.

Injured evacuated from the wreckage in Tel Aviv.
Moti Milrod

Haaretz has learned that a number of serious safety accidents have occurred in recent months at sites under construction by Danya Cebus, the company operating the site where Monday's fatal accident occurred. One of the accidents, in May, happened at that same parking structure.

Over the past six months, three serious accidents occurred at different Danya Cebus sites. Safety violations were discovered at other sites, one of which resulted in the launching of a criminal investigation against senior executives in the firm, which is one of Israel’s largest infrastructure construction companies.

According to police, in the incident in May a concrete pillar collapsed in the parking structure, injuring two people, one moderately and one slightly. Police launched an investigation and said they sent a complaint, as required, to the Safety Administration in the Economy Ministry. Police say the Safety Administration failed to send an inspector to the site and thus work there was not halted.

However, the Safety Administration said it had received no report of an accident at the parking structure. It added it was planning to take enforcement measures against Danya Cebus later in September.

Danya Cebus responded that it is a “law-abiding company and acts in accordance with strict regulations regarding safety.”

In February of this year, the Safety Administration launched a criminal probe over alleged safety violations at the Azrieli Rishonim Mall, a Danya Cebus project in Rishon Letzion after a safety inspector found that the company was allegedly disobeying orders it had received after safety infractions were discovered. Senior Danya Cebus executives and site managers were summoned for questioning under warning, which means they might be criminally charged.

In March, at the Danya Cebus construction site at the Ramon Airport at Timna in the Negev, a worker fell seven meters and was seriously injured after a wooden board covering a ceiling broke when he stepped on it.

Over the past two years, three investigations have been opened against Danya Cebus executives for alleged safety infractions at its sites.

Last April, a coalition fighting construction-site accidents documented severe safety violations at Danya Cebus’ Ogen Park project in Rehovot. The organization sent an urgent demand to the Economy Ministry to issue a stop-work order and launch criminal charges.

Hadas Tagari, head of the coalition, wrote the Economy Ministry at the time: “The site is not closed – a fence surrounds part of it and pedestrians can enter. There are hardly any warning signs and in parts of the site there are no railings. Many laborers are working at heights of 15 meters at least in sickeningly dangerous situations.” Following the coalition’s report, the Economy Ministry confirmed the presence of numerous safety violations and shut down the site.

In June, a coalition activist documented crane operators violating safety regulations at a Danya Cebus site in Or Akiva. “According to safety procedures, crane technicians are required to attach themselves to anchoring points to assure their safety in case of a fall, and the site manager is required to oversee implementation of these rules,” Tagari said. However, Tagari said, in the case that was documented, the crane operators “think they are circus acrobats.”

In August the coalition documented an instance at a Danya Cebus project in Hadera of a laborer standing on scaffolding without a railing or safety line.

Three weeks ago at a Danya Cebus site, a 17-year-old worker was severely injured in a 15- meter fall through an improperly covered opening in a metal roof. According to other laborers, he had not been wearing a helmet or harness. Moreover, minors are not allowed to work at great heights at construction sites according to regulations.

Last week, the website Davar Rishon reported that a crane operator at a Danya Cebus site in Bat Yam was fired after he refused to go up to the crane’s cabin after a safety check revealed the need for immediate repairs. The Economy Ministry confirmed the report.

The Safety Administration said Monday it was going to conduct more safety enforcement at Danya Cebus jobs because it is “a large firm in some of whose sites significant safety violations had been found.” The agency added that it would launch criminal proceedings against executives it deemed responsible for violations.

Danya Cebus added in its statement: “Protection of human life and the safety of its workers were a guiding light for the company” and that “at this difficult time, we focus on aiding the rescue services and we’ll do everything we can to help the investigative authorities in their work.”