Israeli Lawmakers Join Surprise Inspection That Closes Unsafe TA Construction Site

'We are in an emergency situation. There are thousands of other dangerous sites around the country where they work without following the safety laws,' says MK

The building site on Shalom Aleichem Street in Tel Aviv.
Lee Yaron

A Tel Aviv construction site was shut down on Wednesday after a surprise inspection revealed a number of safety violations.

Labor and Social Affairs Ministry inspectors were accompanied on their visit by the chairman of the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee, MK Eli Alalouf (Kulanu) and MK Eyal Ben-Reuven (Zionist Union).

The building site, on Shalom Aleichem Street, will remain closed until inspectors certify that it has fixed all the safety issues, including a lack of safety railings, workers without protective gear such as helmets and safety harnesses, and a lack of appropriate safety training for workers.

“I’m scared of falling. I work on a high floor so I understand it’s dangerous, but what can I do. The contractor isn’t careful about safety and I need to work,” said M., a construction worker from the Hebron area, who has worked at the site for months. He works on the fourth floor on a completely exposed balcony, which does not have a railing or barrier to keep him from falling. Other workers at the site say they have not received any training for working at heights, or any other safety training, as regulations require.

The construction site is located about 200 meters from the Nordau elementary school in Tel Aviv, an area filled with children in the afternoon – but the site has no barrier separating it from the street and passersby.

“We are in an emergency situation. There are thousands of other dangerous sites around the country where they work without following the safety laws,” said Ben-Reuven. “There is a real fear for the lives of the workers at such sites, and we will increase the inspection visits of Knesset members to a frequency of once a month so as to increase deterrence,” he added.

Only a small percentage of the building sites that have been reported to the ministry are inspected by the occupational safety administration, and the contractors know it. Only 18 safety inspectors supervise some 13,000 building sites, Haaretz has reported in the past.

The State Comptroller’s report from May 2016 stated: “Safety administration inspectors visited less than 50 percent of the construction sites the administration knew about at the time.” This translates into one inspection per site every two and a half years. The dynamic state of these sites calls for much more frequent visits.