Official: Builders Responsible for Construction Worker Safety

Construction of new residential buildings in the northern Israeli city of Harish, for religious and secular occupants. (Lior Mizrahi/Flash90)
Construction of new residential buildings in the northern city of Charish. (Lior Mizrahi/Flash90)

Not a week goes by, it seems, without reports of a construction worker falling to his death while working on a new high-rise. In 2015, out of 54 work-related deaths reported, 34 were in the construction industry.

During that year there were inspectors employed by the Economy Ministry to inspect safety issues at the thousands of construction sites in the country. And although more inspectors have been hired, there are still woefully too few to ensure that all safety regulations are followed.

These matters and others were discussed at a panel Thursday in Eilat. “I admit that the level of safety supervision at construction sites is minimal,” said Ze’ev Dibesk, the Economy Ministry official in charge of safety matters. “We are trying to secure budget money to increase inspections, but this is a lengthy bureaucratic matter. Candidates often turn down job offers because of the low salaries. The final responsibility for the safety of workers lies with the contractors.

“The Economy Ministry supervises, but the contractors must realize that we are doing everything we can to improve inspection,” Dibesk said at the conference. “Instead of fining contractors for safety violations, if we close down their construction sites it will be much more effective in bringing them up to code. The contractors must change their attitude and methods of doing business.”