More Than Half of Workplace Casualties in 2015 Were Construction Workers

A new Knesset Information Center says 60 percent of the people killed in workplace accidents in Israel in 2015 were construction workers.

A sorting and recycling facility for construction waste near Shoham.
Tomer Appelbaum

A 26-year-old Palestinian construction worker died in hospital yesterday after falling four stories at a construction site in Petah Tikva on Tuesday. He was evacuated to Beilinson Hospital, where he died of his injuries. 

Meanwhile, the construction toll continued yesterday when a 23-year-old construction worker was seriously injured in a fall at a building site in the Ma’aleh Yosef regional council. Magen David Adom medics and paramedics treated him on the scene and then evacuated him to hospital in Nahariya in critical condition with a head injury. 

Two workers have been killed and 16 injured in accidents at construction sites in the past two weeks.

Another worker was killed this week during construction of a water tower in Elad. The victim, Vitaly Asaf, fell from a height of 13 meters and was pronounced dead on the scene after all resuscitation efforts failed. Asaf leaves a wife and three daughters. His funeral was held yesterday at the new cemetery in Rishon Letzion. 

“Over the past two weeks, the rate of workers being killed or injured in accidents has been seven times higher than in Britain, for one, and reflects real negligence on the part of the state, which allocates ridiculously few resources to inspection of construction sites,” says Hadas Tagari of the Coalition Against Construction Accidents.  

“Another serious problem is that the state doesn’t make public all the information about the accidents and the people involved, including the names of the injured and of the contractors. So the public doesn’t know who the contractors are whose building sites have been the scene of accidents, and the names of the workers killed are usually only published in the Arab media, and not by any official body.”

The National Insurance Institute says that it receives approximately 7,000 reports annually about injuries on construction sites. These reports do not include Palestinians from the territories or migrant laborers who are also employed in the field.

In the past five years, 185 people have been killed in construction accidents. About a hundred investigations were opened in connection with the deaths, but only 11 indictments for manslaughter were filed. Eight-seven cases of injury as a result of negligence on construction sites were investigated, but only seven indictments were filed.

A new report from the Knesset Information Center cited in Haaretz last month shows that 60 percent of the people killed in workplace accidents in Israel in 2015 were construction workers. 

The data also shows that just one building inspector is assigned to 700 sites, and that 52 percent of of the building sites reviewwed had not been inspected at all.