15th Time in 2018: Construction Worker in Israel Dies in Work Accident

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A 35-year-old construction worker died Monday in a fall from a great height at the H Tower in Tel Aviv. The construction site has received three stop-work orders in the past due to safety defects. This is the 15th death at construction sites so far this year. The police are investigating.

The Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry received a report from the Israel Police about a fatal work accident, and said that an initial investigation indicated that the worker fell from a great height to his death while moving scaffolding.

The ministry said that the contractor is BST Construction and that a two-day work stoppage was imposed. The investigation will be carried out by the police with the professional accompaniment of the safety administration.

BST Construction said in a response that they attribute great importance to maintaining construction safety at its sites, comply with the law and invest great efforts in preventing work accidents, out of genuine concern for the life and welfare of its employees. They expressed sorrow and said that the circumstance of the incident are being examined by the relevant bodies and that they operate based on the conclusions.

“On Friday a worker was killed at a site belonging to Electra Construction after being crushed to death from a third-floor balcony while working on the lifting platform,” the director of the Coalition Against Work Accidents, Hadas Tagari, said in a statement.

“In both these incidents, as in the fatal accident two weeks ago at the RAD Tower being built by Solel Boneh, these are companies with a negative safety record of accidents and safety injunctions.”

Tagari said that two weeks ago the state comptroller issued a scathing report about the housing ministry’s contractors’ registrar, who defiantly refrained from exercising his regulatory powers against contractors that are negligent about employees’ safety, thereby contributing directly to a continuation of the safety violations at construction sites.

She noted that the number of fatalities this year will exceed that of last year if the current pace continues, reflecting a worrisome trend after a decline in 2017 compared to 2016.

Reuven Ben Shimon, the founder of the coalition, said that Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Minister Haim Katz should declare an emergency in the construction industry and immediately roll back the easements given to contractors for safety offenses. In addition, Ben Shimon said, he should increase collection of fines, initiate an emergency recruitment of safety inspectors and begin daily enforcement campaigns with the relevant law enforcement bodies.

Last year 35 workers were killed in construction accidents. There were 256 accidents, with 229 workers incurring moderate to serious injuries; 85 percent of the dead are not Israelis, 66 percent of the injuries were caused by falling from a height.

The Tel Aviv site where the construction worker died, May 21, 2018.Credit: Meged Gozani