Leading Israeli Contractor Guilty of Safety Lapses at Construction Site

Judge rejects Afidar’s argument that the minor nature of the work made the appointment of a site manager unnecessary.

The construction site in Ashdod where a Chinese worker fell five stories to his death, February 21, 2016.
Ilan Assayag

One of the country’s leading real estate development and construction companies was found guilty on Wednesday of failing to appoint a manager responsible for maintaining worker safety and of not abiding by safety rules at a building site.

In convicting Afridar Development and Investment, the Tel Aviv-Jaffa District Labor Court stressed the responsibility of the employer or of the person in charge at the work site for ensuring workers’ safety and determined that safety rules apply at all stages of construction, with the workers entitled to full protection.

The case was one of only eight brought by the State Prosecutor’s Office in 2016 over work accidents at construction sites, despite the occurance of 26 accidents in which workers were killed and 150 that ended in serious or moderate injuries to workers.

According to Varda Edwards, chief labor inspector and head of the Safety Administration, not appointing a work manager means leaving the workers at a site without a professional who will take care of all the safety aspects and ensure that an employee will not work in conditions that endanger him.

“Again and again we see contractors disregarding the safety rules and requirements determined by law and thus they become criminals,” she said. “Contractors who act like this are responsible for the growing number of people injured and killed at construction sites. The attempt to save on building costs when it comes to safety is at the expense of the lives of construction workers and the terrible suffering caused to those who are injured and their families.”

According to the indictment against Afridar, the company did not inform the regional work inspector of the appointment of a work manager upon beginning construction of a residential building in Holon, in violation of the work safety regulations. A work inspector issued a safety order prohibiting any construction work at the site until a manager was appointed and approved.

The company claimed that it was only a matter of minor finishing touches, for which it was doubtful that there was any need for a work manager.

The court rejected the company’s argument, ruling that the safety rules apply at all stages of construction and that the workers are entitled to full protection.