Report: Little Safety Supervision at Building Sites in Israel

Over the past five years, 60 percent of the Israelis killed in workplace accidents have been construction workers who fell off a building they were in the midst of working on, according to a new report by the Knesset Information Center – and that is the result of a major lack of supervision of the building trade, said MKs. According to MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz), there are a total of 184 official construction supervisors in Israel, and they are responsible for over 12,000 building sites – meaning that each one is responsible for over 700 sites.

That is far too much for one person to effectively supervise, said Gilon. “The blood of construction workers is too cheap,” said Gilon. “The government must do much more to inspect, supervise and enforce safety rules at construction sites.”

The latest incident occurred earlier Friday, when a worker feel off a steel girder at a construction site in Hadera, falling four floors to his death. He joins 184 others killed in construction accidents between 2010 and 2015, said the study, first published in Ha’aretz. A total of 344 people were killed in work accidents altogether during that period.

While many of those accidents could be attributed to the failure of contractors to comply with safety rules, indictments were issued in only 11 cases of construction workers’ deaths, the study showed. In 2015, over half of work sites were not visited even once by construction-site inspectors, and it was likely that there were many more accidents that went unreported because they caused an injury but not death.

In a statement attached to the report, the Economy Ministry’s Safety and Health Authority, which is responsible for construction supervision, admits that it is unable to do its job properly because of a lack of manpower. The supervisors are responsible for examining all aspects of safety at the sites, including equipment safety, said Gilon – and often, equipment that does not work properly hurts not just workers, but passersby and residents of areas near construction sites, as well, he added.

“The number of dead and injured in the construction trade indicates extensive neglect of this important area by the Economy Ministry, as well as by police, both of which are responsible in this instance,” said Gilon. “Every day, we hear about tragic cases in which workers die, leaving behind families, often among the most vulnerable economically. The results of this study must set off dozens of red lights in our minds, and we must undertake immediate action to end this terrible phenomenon.”