Construction Site Where Crane Fell Closed for 30 Days

YERUSHALAYIM -
Scene where a crane collapsed at a construction site in Yavne, killing four people and injuring one more, May 19, 2019. (Flash90)

The construction site in the central town of Yavneh where a crane collapsed killing four workers was shut down by Israeli authorities for 30 days starting Monday as investigations into the accident proceed, the Times of Israel reported.

Experts have begun examining the scene of the collapse, where the crane has been taken down for closer inspection.

A special police unit called Peles, established last year, which specializes in deadly workplace accidents, and the Labor and Welfare Ministry’s workplace safety unit, are conducting the investigation.

Police placed four people under house arrest for five days, releasing 11 others after questioning. The detainees included various officials involved with the building site and the firm operating the crane.

Four workers were killed when part of the crane broke apart during an attempt to disassemble it. Three of the fatalities were named by authorities Monday as Gil Hazazi, 51, Ben Dakla, 22, and Yonatan Sabag, 33, who was reportedly the manager of the crane-operating company. The name of the fourth victim has not yet been released for publication.

Two other people were injured in the incident.

“Twenty-two-year-old Ben Dakla, a resident of the city, is one of the people killed in the crane disaster in Yavneh – may his memory be a blessing,” wrote Ramat Gan Mayor Carmel Sharma-Hacohen on social media.

“The landscape of Ramat Gan is full of cranes, so I have instructed the city engineer to sharpen focus and increase her supervision over them, and draw the attention of the Labor Ministry to oversee elements under its remit.”

In a comment on the accident, Labor and Welfare Minister Haim Katz appeared to blame the workers themselves for tragedy: “I do not think the accidents are due to contractors’ negligence,” he said. “Some workers do not secure themselves despite the heights [they are working at].”

The family of Yoni Sabag rejected any attempt to accuse him of negligence. The family said in a statement that “Yonatan was a responsible and dedicated guy, who loved his work with cranes. He always took care of the safety of his surroundings at work and also his personal safety. Yonatan had a big heart and was always concerned to help those around him and always did that with a smile and love.”

“Last Shabbat he celebrated his 33rd birthday together with all of his family, without knowing that in effect that was his farewell party,” the statement said.

The accident in Yavneh triggered renewed cries for improved safety in an industry that has been plagued by such incidents.

On Monday afternoon, the Histadrut labor federation convened an urgent meeting to discuss how to make the sites safer. The meeting was chaired by Histadrut leader Arnon Bar-David and was attended by representatives of trade associations and labor unions in the construction industry.

The group announced a four-point program: the founding of a joint workplace safety headquarters to be financed by labor unions and the construction industry that would focus on education and accident prevention at work sites; a half-day work stoppage on Thursday that would be spent holding seminars at construction sites around the country on safety regulations; an emergency conference for companies and unions in early June; and placing workplace safety high on the agenda of all professional conferences in the industry for the duration of 2019, the Times said.