Israel's Labor Ministry to Close 27 Construction Sites Due to Safety Issues

Inspectors find dozens of dangerous safety violations, improper scaffolding, lack of safety equipment for workers and faulty electricity

Construction site in Jerusalem, Israel, 2019.
Emil Salman

Israel's Labor Ministry inspectors ordered 27 construction sites shut down on Sunday due to safety issues.

The ministry said its inspectors, together with the police police, examined 30 sites in the central town of Modi’in and the southern city of Ashdod last week. It ended up issuing closure orders against all 15 inspected sites in Modi’in and 12 of the 15 sites in Ashdod.

Since the beginning of 2019, 38 construction workers have died on site.

In Modi’in’s Nofim neighborhood, inspectors found dozens of dangerous safety violations, including a lack of fencing around holes and high places, improper scaffolding, lack of safety equipment for workers and faulty electricity. At two sites run by the Malibu group, there was no manager on site, even though complicated, dangerous work was being done, the ministry added.

Many of these same impairments were found in Ashdod. In addition, some of the Ashdod sites had no one in charge of safety. The ministry said the sites can’t be reopened until a safety officer is appointed.

The ministry’s acting chief labor inspector, Arik Shmilovich, has summoned executives of the companies operating the problematic sites for questioning, the statement added.

Information about the problems found at these companies’ sites has also been passed on to the Housing and Construction Ministry’s registrar of contractors.

Shmilovich said that over the past year, the ministry’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has doubled the number of safety orders it issued against dangerous construction sites throughout the country.

“The level of safety problems that we have found at construction sites requires us to employ integrated forces and additional tools to bring about the desired change,” Shmilovich said. “We must wage this campaign together with other parties, such as local governments, which are responsible for safety in public areas within their jurisdiction. Therefore, we will continue to demand that they get involved and exercise their authority.”