Four people were killed when a crane collapsed at a construction site on Jabotinsky Boulevard in the industrial area of Yavneh, Sunday morning.
Three were killed instantly and two others were trapped on the crane. Rescue services and paramedics rushed to the location to free the trapped men, one of whom was seriously injured and later succumbed to his wounds.
According to a police statement, the men were killed when concrete slabs, used to balance the crane, fell off and plummeted to the ground from a vast height, landing on them.
Activists protesting workplace deaths in Israel said that this latest crane collapse raised the toll at construction sites since the beginning of the 2019 to 20.
Deaths of construction workers are a near-weekly occurrence, largely because of poorly enforced safety codes.
According to the Worker’s Hotline organization, 35 construction workers were killed at work in 2017. That figure rose to 38 in 2018.
In 2018, a general strike was averted at the last moment after the Histadrut labor federation reached a deal with the government to improve safety conditions for construction workers. The focus of the planned strike had been the lack of safety regulations at building sites. The Histadrut requested the Knesset approve new rules for worker safety at building sites. The rules were part of an agreement signed by the union with the Finance and Welfare Ministries to change standards for worker safety, upgrading the Israeli safety standards to European standards.
The new regulations will follow European guidelines, with higher barriers and stronger measures to keep scaffolding in place. The Labor and Welfare Ministry will work with other ministries on legislation to require contractors and building companies to adopt the new standards, with penalties to be built into the law for those who fail to update their scaffolding.
Those penalties could include fines, if inspectors catch contractors failing to uphold the standards – or criminal charges, if a construction worker falls to his death off scaffolding. Adoption of the European standards on scaffolding is a central demand of the union to prevent a strike, the Histadrut said.