Zero accidents


Dear friends,

In the evening of 4 January 2016 Vitali Assaf, aged 43 from Rishon Letzion died on the construction site of a municipal storage pool (known as a water tower) in Elad. Vitali, an experienced crane operator, fell in the dark into a deep storage pool that he was standing on and which had apparently not been totally covered. Vitali is survived by his wife and 3 daughters, aged 13, 10 and 2 years and 10 months, as well as his friends and family.

Vitali was the first employee who died in a building accident in 2016. In January 2016 alone, 6 construction workers were killed and over the last 3 months at least 18 construction workers have died. All of these accidents destroy families. Thousands of construction workers are injured each year, of which hundreds are injured seriously and remain permanently disabled. The injury rate of construction workers in Israel is seven times higher than in Britain – indicating the poor safety standards on construction sites in Israel.

Over the last 3 months ACRI and activists from other organizations have joined the Coalition against Construction Accidents, which was formed and is managed by Attorney Hadas Tagari.

Through the Coalition’s activities I have been exposed to the incomprehensible, multi-systemic failures in the building industry. Most construction companies disregard safety procedures and tend to prioritise fast and inexpensive working methods over safety concerns. There are only 17 inspectors at the Ministry of Economy who are responsible for supervising construction sites across the country. Work continues at sites where serious and even fatal accidents have occurred, as if nothing happened at all.

Only a small number of criminal investigations are carried out with respect to fatal accidents, and indictments are filed in only 10% of the cases investigated. Most of the cases end in a plea bargain with ridiculous penalties, which do not deter negligent contractors. Basic information such as the names of victims and the details of accidents are not published and are deliberately hidden from the public. The victims of these accidents remain largely invisible.

The Coalition is working to expose these issues and affect change. Hadas Tagari writes that “This week marks three months since the Coalition against Construction Accidents started working. We have exposed a lot of information, contacted the authorities and come before the Knesset. We have responded to media and put the vulnerability of workers and the multi-systemic failures in the building industry on the public agenda. We have seen that many people do care – as they have shown an interest and offered their help. We have had several achievements, but we are not satisfied yet. Together we will continue to work and won’t give up until we reach our goal, which should be obvious – to bring the number of accidents as close as possible to zero, and for every employee to feel respected and valued.”

I have joined this fight and invite you to do the same – spread the word and follow the calls to action on the Coalition’s Facebook page.



Sharon signature

Sharon Abraham-Weiss
Executive Director
Association for Civil Rights in Israel



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Categories: Labor Rights

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