Ministry Shuts Down Building Site After Death of Worker

Construction of new residential buildings in the Northern Israeli city of Harish. Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Flash90
Construction of new residential buildings in the northern Israeli city of Charish. (Lior Mizrahi/Flash90)

For the first time, the Economy Ministry has issued a closure order for a construction site, after a worker died at the site on Monday. Varda Edwards, head of safety in the Ministry, said in a speech Tuesday that as far as the Ministry was considered, the days of “going easy” on worksites where workers lose their lives due to safety issues, was over.

The latest occurrence of a death at a building site involved a construction worker from China, who fell five floors to his death at an Ashdod building site, Israel Radio reported. Police were called in and took testimony, but work continued at the site until Tuesday, when an Economy Ministry inspector armed with a closure order conducted an investigation as well.

So far this year, 8 workers have died at construction sites. A recent study showed that over the past five years, 60 percent of people killed in workplace accidents in Israel were construction workers who fell off a building. The reason, according to the report by the Knesset Information Center, is due to a major lack of supervision of the building trade. According to MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz), there are only 184 construction supervisors in Israel, responsible for over 12,000 building sites – meaning that each one is responsible for close to 70 sites each.

Edwards said that the Ashdod site would remain closed until management provided a full safety plan (showing how it would prevent future incidents) that must be approved by the Ministry. “We know what the nature of these accidents are and the ways to prevent them. Beginning now we will redouble our supervision efforts and enforcement of rules and regulations, but it must be remembered that enforcement is a professional tool that must be invested in,” she added.

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