Workplace Accidents

Workplace  Accidents

According to a report of the Occupational Safety and Health Department for 2011 -2015, during 2015 about 50 thousand employees have been injured in accidents during work, 54 of those workers being killed. The construction industry is the most dangerous from the safety point of view, and not surprisingly 34 of those killed died on construction sites. 64% of the fatalities in the construction industry occurred during the construction of residential houses. Falling from high places remains the leading cause of death in the construction industry, and 21 workers died as a result of such occurrence.

During 2015, 46% of the fatal accidents which took place in the construction industry have occurred in the frame building phase, more precisely during frame casting. This phase is characterized by a variety of activities related to the preparation and erection of a skeleton structure,  including casts of columns and beams. 21% of the accidents occurred during finishing work, including flooring, inside and outside paneling, various installations, waterproofing and more. 18% of accidents is attributed to renovation works, which professionally are considered relatively simple construction works. Four cases were registered during excavation works, when the actual event was the collapse of walls or the collapse of an entire excavation work section on top of the unfortunate worker.

Thus it is clearly observable that about 30% of the accident cases originated from work-related factors like height work (scaffolding, planking and use of ladders) , unforgiving accidents which led to fatalities. In an additional 20% of the cases it is observable the involvement of lifting tools, such as tower cranes or concrete pumps. 15% of the accidents were caused by accidental  injury from different building materials. Over 50% of the victims of fatal accidents in the construction industry were employees of subcontractors. This prevalence is consistent with the structure of employment in the industry, whereby the construction site operator employs several subcontractors, each of  which have a different specialized professional expertise. One-third of the employees who were killed are employees of the contracting company in charge. 2 employees killed in - 2015 were independent self-engaged renovation workers and in two other cases, those who were killed were the employers, namely the contractors themselves. 

Even though the majority of fatal accidents occur on construction sites, there are no industrial areas which may rest on their laurels and all other industrial establishments and workplaces need to beware of accidents.

First - because there is still a considerable number of occupational accidents, including fatalities, which occur during manufacturing operations. These accidents expose the owner and the safety officers to criminal responsibility and legal liability, and they may find themselves involved in formal investigations under criminal warning, subject to fines on the company and even to personal indictments, all of which may cause demoralization to employees of the company. In addition, civil lawsuits brought forth by employees and their families after the end of their contracts, can require the establishment to allocate significant funds and ultimately change the percentage rate of the insurance premiums of the plant. 

Second - at one point of time or another, every industrial plant which desires to survive must adapt to the needs of new times, to the market and customer requirements and technological developments, thus eventually but inevitably becoming a construction site. Whether it is the expansion of a factory, a warehouse building, construction of new sewage treatment plants or adding a safe room - eventually the owners and the field safety officers are becoming construction work entrepreneurs, and can be responsible for accidents occurring on the premises of their factory to workers on behalf of the contractor or to company employees hurt as a result of those construction work.

This is exactly where we can help with legal advice in the field of safety, first in the field of prevention, then, if necessary, advice and representation in civil and criminal cases.

In the field of prevention - we conduct surveys of compliance with all safety laws as part of the internal corporal safety compliance program. Such a survey should be done with skill and familiarity to the subject, not only with intimate knowledge of the rich content of the work safety subject matter, but also with profound legal knowledge of safety laws. From experience we can say without hesitation - there is always an overlap between the two. Sometimes, there are various common perceptions of safety, like "everyone does it this way", or "it was always like this" that do not fit into the requirements of forensic examination and exceed safety laws. Internal compliance programs of safety should be carried out with uncompromising recognition not only of the general spirit of laws and regulations, but with deep understanding of the underlines and sub-lines thereof. Only in this way, it is possible to put together a comprehensive and detailed report on the compatibility between the corporal conduct at the manufacturing plants and the legal provisions, and begin to correct deficiencies - and this before an Inspector of Labor requires it as part of an investigation or before the actual occurrence of an accident. 

In the area of current business activity - questions often emerge on the legality of certain specific actions within the current frame of work. Many times when we scrutinized the activities of enterprises, after many years during which they were content with implementing the decisions of internal safety committees, we have discovered that some of these decisions were not necessarily in correspondence with the legal requirements; we have uncovered situations where the manager in charge of safety or the higher ranks above him, instituted practices or procedures that could not stand the tests of the court procedures; or cases where outside contractors, like building contractors or other contractors, engaged in work in factories without adequate safety appendices as required (and there are many examples like this); In such cases, the enterprise is under ongoing legal exposure, without its management or administrative officers being at all aware of the matter.

As a matter of routine we perform, as part of the statutory requirements, safety trainings relevant to the legal aspects of the company. Such lectures may be lectures on the subject of legal responsibility of directors and managers, or legal lectures on specific legal aspects or on specific issues required by that enterprise - such as construction and construction engineering, chemical and biological laboratories, legal aspects of hazardous materials and more. 

Consulting and representation - we advise and accompany companies in cases where safety issues are being "dragged" out beyond the boundaries of the plant or the company. For example, as part of work injury claims filed by employees or former employees against the Social Security, the directors or other employees of the company will be required to provide documents or give evidence in claims submitted either to the National Insurance Institution or to the Labor Court. In such cases, all this material has to be properly formulated, the transferred documents thoroughly checked and the witnesses properly prepared before their appearance in the courts. The material or the evidence given or transmitted to the National Insurance Institution and to the Labor Court is of great importance and significance for the defense and legal protection of the organization in later stages, keeping in mind that consequent work injury claims may emerge and be served against the company itself. If charges are brought, we represent the company directors and its officers in the criminal and administrative proceedings.