New regulations to bring down work accidents

According to the Industry, Trade & Labor Ministry report, there were 24 workplace fatalities in the first half of 2008.

New regulations on the construction industry, set to go into effect in November, are aimed at reducing the number of deaths casualties in the workplace, according to a report by the Industry, Trade & Labor Ministry. The new regulations are aimed particularly at laborers who deal with heights. Half of all workplace deaths are in industry, and a quarter are in building construction, said Varda Edwards, chief labor inspector for the ministry in a report released on Sunday. According to the ministry report, there were 24 workplace fatalities in the first half of 2008. The ministry said that it has been working to prep workers to the new regulations. The new laws are aimed at insuring that workers use proper equipment that is designed to keep them safe, and that they use it correctly, said Israel Shreibman, deputy director of the Israel Institute for Occupational Safety and Hygiene (IIOSH), a public safety lobby. Last year, about NIS 2.75 billion was spent on workplace safety, according to the organization. Last year's fatality count was 51 deaths, so it appears that this year will have little change. Haim Eliyahu, director of IIOSH, said that it's too early to estimate the results for the whole year, adding that the second half of the year could show higher or lower numbers. Shreibman said that when examining a 10-year period in Israeli industry, there are noticeably fewer accidents in Israel. While there are still between 60,000 and 70,000 work-related accidents per year in Israel, the rate is 40 percent lower than it was 10 years ago when population changes were taken into account, he said. "You have to see the whole picture after many years," he said.