Two people were killed on Sunday and three others were injured in four work accidents across the country. Two of the injured are in serious condition and one is in moderate condition. This brings the number of people killed in work accidents this year to 17. Eight of these people worked in construction.
At 8 A.M., emergency medical services received a report of a 38-year-old man who had been hit by a heavy-equipment vehicle in an industrial zone in Netivot. Shortly afterwards, the man, Fahed Yousuf Ghneimat, was pronounced dead. A report was given to the police and to an investigator of work accidents.
About 2:40 P.M., two construction workers, both age 25, fell from a height of seven floors at a site in Harish. One of them, Damen Joul Tatour, was pronounced dead on the spot. A relative of Tatour, a Palestinian, said Palestinian “mothers feel like they’re sending their children to construction sites in the same way that Jewish mothers feel when they send their children to the military. It’s dangerous and they don’t know if they’ll come back. They’re not the first from here who have died in construction accidents, it’s like a plague without a cure.”
The other worker who fell was evacuated to Hillel Yaffe Hospital in Hadera in serious condition.
Also on Sunday, a 32-year-old worker fell off scaffolding on the fourth floor of a building site in Herzliya, and was taken to Ichilov Hospital in moderate condition with a head injury. Another report came in of a 30-year-old construction worker who had fallen from a height of four meters at a construction site in the southern Sharon area. He was evacuated in serious condition to Beilinson Hospital, suffering from a head injury.
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According to official Labor Ministry figures, 70 people were killed in work accidents in 2018, compared to 52 in 2017. The annual average of work-related fatalities in the last five years stands at 59.
Attorney Gadir Nikola from Kav LaOved (Workers’ Hotline) said the human toll was “the result of a policy of ‘zero deterrence’ followed by the Labor Ministry, the police and the State Prosecutor’s Office. While the public continues to count the dead, enforcement agencies, investigative and justice authorities drag their feet negligently, allowing people to die. Until employers pay dearly in fines and imprisonment, nothing will change here,” she said.
The Labor Ministry employs 20 inspectors to cover all construction sites in Israel. Despite the ministry’s proclamations, the number of supervisors has not grown since 2015, the year Haaretz, Kav LaOved, the Coalition against Construction Site-Accidents and the Forum Against Work Accidents began monitoring these sites.
Due to the working conditions for inspectors, it is difficult to recruit new ones. Thus it was decided in December 2017 to increase their wages. However, the Ministry of Social Services only published the bid for these jobs 10 months after the decision to raise salaries was made.
The legal adviser at the Forum for Prevention of Work Accidents, Israel Asal, said, “This was a particularly bloody day in Israel’s construction sites. The shocking string of accidents demonstrates that the Safety Administration at the Labor Ministry is not taking any steps on the ground to prevent the next accident, other than putting out slogans and headlines to the media.”