The scene in Yavne where part of the crane collapsed.
(photo credit: MDA)
Four workers were killed and two were injured on Sunday when a crane collapsed and counterweights crashed to the ground at a residential construction site in Yavne.
“This is a large construction site with two residential buildings, and a crane in the middle,” said Magen David Adom paramedic Alon Melma, who treated the victims at the scene. “The rear section of the crane disconnected and fell to the ground.”
Three workers were found dead on the ground by rescue workers when they arrived. An Israeli crane operator was pronounced dead after rescue workers retrieved his body, which was hanging from the crane wreckage.
Two other lightly injured workers were stuck on the crane and safely brought back to the ground.
“I have made it clear to the police on several occasions in recent months that I expect the investigation of events to conclude in identifying criminal liability, up to the highest echelons of the construction companies.”
Israel Police said it would be referring the accident to its joint investigation division with the Labor Ministry, within the Lahav 433 National Crime Unit. Eight workers were interviewed at the site, some under caution.
The Labor Ministry said that another worker, truck driver Yitzhak Cohen, was electrocuted to death at the same construction site last month.
MKs Avi Nissenkorn (Blue and White), Osama Saadi (Hadash-Ta’al), Michal Rozin (Meretz) and Moshe Arbel (Shas) issued a joint statement, calling for a criminal inquiry and for the construction site to be closed down.
“The helplessness of the government regarding work accidents on construction sites is costing lives,” they said.
“Promises to enforce safety procedures, stricter penalties and improved safety measures have not been realized, and workers continue to be killed. We call on the government to act immediately to enforce stringent safety procedures, to move inspectors to existing construction sites and to stop activity at dangerous sites in order to prevent the killing and injury of additional workers.”
MK Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) said the crane collapse constituted a disaster on a national scale.
“The ongoing powerlessness of all the enforcement agencies borders on criminal negligence and the contempt for human life is terrible and would not have occurred if the victims were not poor and apparently ‘unimportant’ to the government,” Yacimovich said.
“The time has come for the police unit responsible for investigating work accidents to act in a manner similar to cases of murder.”
After an emergency meeting on Monday, Histadrut Labor Union chairman Arnon Bar-David and Israel Builders Association president Raul Srugo said they would be declaring 2019-2020 as the year of "construction site safety."
"The tragic incidents in the construction industry are not a divine decree," said Bar-David and Srugo in a joint statement.
"By working together, it will be possible to dramatically reduce the number of casualties caused by work accidents at construction sites. The government, employers and employees should join together to combat this safety crisis."