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Israel Approves On-the-spot Safety Fines

But lack of safety inspectors may not help prevent site accidents

The Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee on Wednesday approved a rule that allows building contractors to be fined up to 35,280 shekels (over $9,900) for violating safety regulations at their construction sites. The new rule goes into effect in January.

This was a major step being promoted by Labor Minister Haim Katz to contend with work accidents. Building inspectors will be authorized to issue the fines on the spot, with no need for a bureaucratic procedure. If the CEO of a company doesn’t act to correct the violations, the inspector can issue him a personal fine of up to 9,000 shekels.

The Builders Association and the government’s housing cabinet lobbied hard against the move. “There are contractors who don’t earn the sums of these sanctions in a month,” the association’s deputy director Amir Heller told the MKs during Wednesday’s hearing. “Managing a building site is complicated. You have to give warnings first, not go straight to the guillotine. This could harm the workers themselves, because they’ll lose their jobs.”

But committee chairman MK Eli Alalouf (Kulanu) retorted, “You can’t keep on looking for excuses for not observing the regulations. There’s a way to totally avoid these fines and that’s by carefully observing the law and safety regulations.”

The effectiveness of the fines will be limited, however, so long as the impossible pressure on building inspectors continues. There are only 19 construction site inspectors, and sometimes one inspector is responsible for hundreds of sites, meaning that they never even visit many of them.

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Paul Edwards
Editor for HSME
Digital Market Apprentice at Bay Publishing, curating what gets published across all of our digital products. If you spot a mistake or would like to read more about a certain topic on any of our magazine websites let me know using the contact button above.