Worker Injured at Same Building Site in Israel Where Other Worker Died Last Month

The accident occurred just one day after the site was allowed to re-open after ostensibly addressing safety problems.

A bird's eye view of a construction site in Tel Aviv.
Nir Keidar

A Chinese worker was moderately injured on Wednesday at a building site where another worker was killed three weeks earlier. The injury occurred just one day after a closure order against the Ashdod building site was canceled.

The worker, a man in his thirties, was hit in the head by a falling piece of cement and taken to the hospital. The man who died three weeks ago, who was also Chinese, was killed by a fall from a height of five stories.

On February 22, the Economy Ministry made its first-ever use of a new safety regulation to order the Ashdod site, where the Israel Brothers firm is building a residential tower, shut down due to safety problems. The new regulation states that any building site where an accident occurs because of safety problems will be closed until the problems are fixed.

The closure order was canceled on Tuesday after the ministry received all the requested documentation from both the site manager and the contractor, Dani Shelly Engineering. This included a written promise that all the safety problems had been fixed.

But the ministry canceled the order without sending an inspector to verify that the problems were in fact fixed.

Ministry officials said the problems found at the site last month included not giving the workers proper safety training and failing to have an electrician examine the site. But they said the company wasn’t actually required to fix all the problems in order to get the site reopened.

“We don’t shut down a site when the problems aren’t cardinal,” one official explained.

The ministry’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration told Haaretz on Wednesday that the accident was reported only late that afternoon, so an inspector would visit the site Thursday morning to ensure that the earlier problems had in fact been corrected. It added that the contractor, Dani Shelly, had been ordered to submit a safety management plan after last month’s fatal accident, and the closure order was canceled after the plan was submitted.

“The additional incident that occurred shows the plan hasn’t yet been fully implemented and that further work by the contracting firm is needed,” the administration’s statement continued, adding that the inspector who visits the site will have the power to renew the closure order if he deems it warranted.

Police are also investigating the accident. Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot said the injured worker is in stable condition.

Reuven Ben Shimon, a safety expert who founded the Forum for the Prevention of Work Accidents, said the fact that this accident occurred so soon after another accident at the same site, and one day after the ministry allowed work to resume there, showed that despite the new regulation, enforcement of safety rules at building sites is still lax.

Last week, the ministry issued closure orders against three building sites in Be’er Sheva, but it said these have all been rescinded as well. Since the start of the year, seven workers have been killed in construction accidents.