Israeli Ministry to Set European Standards for Scaffolding

In the past decade the safety condition of scaffoldings in Israel has declined significantly

File photo: Police inspectors visit a construction site in Bat Yam as part of an investigation into a worker's death, October 2018.
Tomer Appelbaum

The Labor Ministry is amending construction site regulations for the first time in 30 years and plans to require that scaffoldings be built on the basis of European standards.

The safety standards of construction scaffoldings in Israel have deteriorated in the past decade, with the number of reported defects rising from 53 to 73.3 percent.

To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz

The ministry said it would seek aid from the Housing and Economy ministries to provide aid to contractors to replace older scaffoldings.

There are already incentives available to purchase better platforms but the system is not being implemented. In 2015-2016 the government made several decisions aimed at industrializing construction. An Economy Ministry directive from November permit contractors to receive up to half a million shekels to buy new scaffolding, as long as they meet with proper standards.

Some 12 million shekels has been budgeted for this purpose but last year not a single application was filed for assistance to purchase new scaffoldings.

In the past decade the safety condition of scaffoldings in Israel has declined significantly. In 2011 defects were found at about half of sites that were checked (53.3 percent), but the figure rose to 73.3 percent last year. While in 2011 fewer than 3,000 dangerous defects were detected, six years later the number rose to 5,335. But ministry officials handed out only 160 summonses requiring contractors to cease work at these sites, due to defective scaffoldings.

Labor Minister Haim Katz said “our goal is to create a single standard for all construction sites that will ensure the safety of workers. Unfortunately we cannot rely on the goodwill of contractors to invest in safety measures, and therefore we will impose a new standard that will require the use of qualitative scaffoldings that will protect employees against falls and dramatically reduce the extent of injuries and deaths.”

This year 37 people have been killed in work accidents at construction sites.

On Thursday the Histadrut will hold an emergency meeting about work accidents in construction and Chairman Avi Nissenkorn is expected to set a date for a general strike over the situation in protests against a lack of significant steps taken in recent weeks to rectify the problem.