Latest Construction Worker Death Raises Cry of Israeli Government Neglect

Victim is ninth to die in work accident thus year; construction workers plan first-ever protest demonstration.

Police officers at the Netanya construction site where a 37-year-old worker fell to his death, March 29, 2016.
Tomer Appelbaum

A 37-year-old construction worker from northern Israel was killed on Tuesday in an accident at a construction site on Kehilat Safed Street in Netanya when he fell from the fifth floor to the second floor.

Magen David Adom medics and paramedics who arrived at the scene tried to revive him but had to pronounce him dead. The police have begun an investigation together with investigators from the Economy and Industry Ministry.

He was the ninth laborer killed in a work accident since the start of the year. Last month, 25 workers were moderately to seriously injured, out of the 58 injured this year. A 50-year-old worker on Monday suffered serious head and chest injuries after falling at a Rishon Letzion construction site and was taken to hospital.

“With each passing month, we are seeing a growing number of injured workers. This month we had the highest number since we began tracking the figures,” said Hadas Tagari, director of the Coalition against Construction Accidents. “Cases in which a worker dies still get some attention, but the cases of serious injury are hardly mentioned.” She added there is serious negligence in the management of construction sites.

Last week, Haaretz reported on the poor working conditions for the Economy Ministry’s 17 inspectors, each of whom is responsible for more than 750 construction sites out of a total 13,000. The minimum requirement to be hired as an inspector is a bachelor’s degree in engineering or practical engineering, and the starting salary is between NIS 5,900 and NIS 6,500 ($1,540-$1,700). The inspectors are required to travel to the building sites, but are not issued vehicles, and if they use their own vehicle they do not receive a full refund for gas expenses, only a refund calculated on the basis of the cost of doing the trip by public transportation.

This Saturday night, hundreds of construction workers and crane operators will hold their first-ever demonstration in front of the government compound in Tel Aviv to protest what they say is the Economy Ministry’s disregard for worker safety, inadequate inspection for cranes and poor working conditions.