Construction Worker Killed in Israel's North; Firm Already Had 21 Safety Citations

Despite the spate of citations, the Economy Ministry’s safety administration only brought the company up before the registrar of contractor in September

Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg
The construction site in Pardes Hanna, Israel, on Sunday.
The construction site in Pardes Hanna, Israel, on Sunday.Credit: Israel Police
Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg

A Palestinian construction worker was struck by a crane and killed on Sunday at a school construction site in Pardes Hanna in northern Israel. The company employing the 44-year-old man already had 21 safety citations issued against it in the past two years alone.

The crane was operating from a truck that tilted sideways, resulting in the eighth death at a construction site this year. The initial investigation of the accident suggested the truck tilted because its stabilizers were not deployed. The truck driver, the site manager and the safety overseer were arrested on suspicion of bearing liability for the accident. The safety administration at the Economy Ministry summoned an outside expert to check the circumstances of the accident.

Work on the site was carried out by the Walid Ghrayeb firm. According to data collected by an Israeli organization fighting industrial safety hazards, 15 safety citations were issued against the company in 2020 alone, and by August 2021 there were five more. In 2015 a worker was killed at one of the company’s sites. Despite the spate of citations, the Economy Ministry’s safety administration only brought the company up before the registrar of contractor in September. In a December hearing, the registrar decided to revoke the company’s license for three years – but suspended the sentence, fining it 39,000 shekels ($12,000).

Hadas Tagari, head of the organization combating accidents, told Haaretz that “a month and a half into the new year and we are forced to count an eighth casualty at a construction site, and 11 [at industrial sites] overall. Only in the past month was a soft sanction imposed on [the Walid Ghrayeb company] that allowed it to keep operating, and even – astonishing as it may sound – to continue being recognized as eligible for government contracts.” As a result, “negligent construction companies continue to operate unhindered."

The Pardes Hannah-Karkur municipal council said, “The council shares the family’s deep grief. The incident is now being investigated by police and the Labor Ministry, with the help of council personnel.” Haaretz asked the Walid Ghrayeb company for comment, but did not receive a response by press time.

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