Workplace Deaths Have Risen by 30 Percent in the First Half of This Year

In the first six months of 2019 alone, 43 were killed in workplace accidents - construction industry and the commerce and services sector have shown the biggest rise in fatalities

First responders at a construction site in Yavne, where four workers were killed in a crane collapse, March 19, 2019.
\ Ilan Assayag

Forty-three workers were killed on the job in the first six months of the 2019, the highest number of fatalities for January-June in the past five years, according to a new report issued Sunday by Kav La’Oved (Workers Hotline).

The figure represents a 30 percent rise over the same period last year, and demonstrates that the Labor Ministry is far from meeting its goal of reducing work accidents by 10 percent this year.

>> Read more: Israel’s construction accidents: Not mishaps, but negligence | Editorial ■ Israel's construction workers' lives matter, too | Opinion

From the data, based on reports from the Magen David Adom rescue service and the police, it emerges that since the beginning of the year there have been 195 work accidents in which 164 workers were injured. Last month 10 workers were killed and 34 injured. The construction industry leads in the number of fatalities, and is the scene of 60 percent of the country’s serious work accidents. The construction industry and the commerce and services sector have shown the biggest rise in fatalities; the latter saw a 26 percent rise over the first half of 2018 – 24 fatalities compared to 19 in 2019.

Kav La’Oved explained that the main reason for the poor safety situation at Israeli workplaces is too few safety inspectors and the lack of a national body to make policy and set priorities in accordance with market needs. “Most of the promises by government ministries to promote safety in the construction sector remain on paper since November 2018,” the report said.

Of those who died in the first half of the year, 14 were Jews, 10 were Israeli Arabs, eight were Palestinians, eight were foreign workers, and the identities of three were not available. The report also said that as in previous years, falling from heights was the leading cause of serious accidents, responsible for 40 percent of them. The second leading cause of accidents was being hit by falling heavy objects (26 percent) while 18 percent were caused by vehicles – mostly trucks and forklifts at workplaces.

Kav LaOved urged the government to set up a national authority for workplace safety, and to set standards like the OECD’s.