Three Construction Workers Killed in One Day Across Israel

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The construction site in Petah Tikva. The site was unsupervised.
The construction site in Petah Tikva. The site was unsupervised.Credit: Magen David Adom

Three construction workers were killed in Israel on Tuesday in three separate work-related incidents. This brings the number of people killed in work accidents this year to 36, including 20 in the construction industry.

A 23-year-old Palestinian worker from Nablus was killed after being electrocuted at a construction site in the central city of Petah Tikva. The developer and the municipality had not properly reported the site to the Labor Ministry, and it was therefore unsupervised.

The police detained the site's contractor and safety manager. Their preliminary investigations indicate that the worker was electrocuted by an exposed cable he been using to operate one of his tools while standing on the building's scaffolding.

In an accident in the southern city of Ashdod, a 24-year-old worker was killed after he fell from scaffolding and was hurt by an iron bar. He was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The police said they have arrested three people suspected of causing his death negligence, including the site manager.

In Beit She'an in the north, a 60-year-old worker was killed after falling into a sewage pit at a factory in the city's industrial area. A preliminary investigation shows that the man stood on top of a cover used to secure the pit while performing cleaning work. The cover collapsed under his weight and he into the pit, which was over 2 meters deep.

The police are investigating whether there was negligence in the installation of the cover.  

Hezi Schwartzman, head of the occupational safety directorate at the Labor Ministry, called it "a tragic day of fatal work accidents," and called on all workers and developers to adhere strictly to safety rules.

"We will continue to enforce [the regulations] through site closure orders and financial sanctions," he said. "I expect that all the relevant regulators will play their part in the fight for safety in construction, and will help us bring about significant deterrence."

"This horrific daily sequence of three fatal work accidents since the beginning of this week should shake up all the responsible regulatory authorities required to act to ensure the safety of the workers, including, first and foremost, the director of occupational safety at the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry and the registrar of constructors at the Construction and Housing Ministry," said Dr. Hadas Tagari, founder and executive director of SafeWork Israel.

"The small number of indictments filed by the prosecution for fatal work accidents that occurred due to site operators' safety failures also significantly contributes to the lack of deterrence safety neglect," she added. 

In the last three days, five workers have died, four of them in the construction industry. Shadi Saada Agbaria, 33, from Umm al-Fahm was killed at a construction site in Herzliya on Monday when the roof of the building collapsed.

In this case, similarly to what happened in Petah Tikva, the municipality granted the construction permit but failed to properly report it to the Labor Ministry, so the site was not adequately supervised. The police have opened an investigation into the matter.

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