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14 fatal workplace injuries in West Bank

January 14, 2020 at 2:32 am

Workers can be seen at a construction site in Jerusalem 10 June 2012 [Mahfouz Abu Turk/Apaimages]

The Palestinian Ministry of Labour confirmed that 2019 was unprecedented in the number of fatal workplace injuries in the West Bank and in Israel.

Likewise, the number of non-fatal workplace injuries has doubled since 2018.

The ministry indicated that last year 14 fatal workplace injuries were recorded in the West Bank and 28 others in the 1948 territories.

Firas Abu Hammad, head of the Occupational Health and Safety Department in the Ministry of Labour, said that “the construction sector is one of the most dangerous in Palestine.”

He continued: “The preventive aspect of occupational safety and health measures and requirements for workers and employers, therein, are severely deficient. Consequently, the extent of the commitment of labourers and employers alike to those measures is also insufficient, which leads to recording high rates of injuries, especially in this sector. This careless attitude towards undertaking the necessary preventive measures is due to the failing role of the employers’ and worker’s representatives to raise awareness and provide their peers with the required guidelines to occupational safety and health procedures.

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Abu Hammad added that about 70 per cent of the fatal workplace injuries recorded in 2019 occurred in the construction sector, which witnessed an increase of labour force in 2019 compared to 2018.

Statistics of the Ministry of Labour indicated that fatal workplace injuries in the West Bank, recorded between 2015 and 2019, reached a peak in 2015 with 21 fatal accidents, while the documented number of injuries in 2016 and 2019 was the same, 14 injuries. Thus, the percentage of injuries declined in 2017, recording 11 fatal injuries.

According to a report issued by the ministry today, Monday, the year 2018 witnessed the lowest rate of fatal workplace injuries during the five years, by recording only seven injuries. It is noticeable that in the period between 2015 and 2018, there was a general decrease in the number of fatal workplace injuries recorded by the Ministry of Labour. However, in 2019 the number of those injuries dramatically increased, doubling the rate compared to 2018.

Regarding the number of recorded workplace injuries in the West Bank in the period between 2015 and 2019, the highest number of documented accidents took place in 2019, reaching 880, followed by 808 work injuries in 2017, 776 cases in 2018, and 682 cases in 2016, with the lowest level of injuries recorded in 2015, reaching 664 injuries. Thus, the Ministry of Labour has become more aware of the importance of recording and documenting this type of injuries.

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On the 2020 plan of the Inspection and Labour Protection Directorate in of the Ministry of Labour to reduce the number of fatal workplace injuries, Ali Al-Sawi, Director-General of Inspection and Labour Protection Directorate indicated that “the most important interventions the directorate will take to reduce fatal workplace injuries are directed to the construction sector at a national scale and throughout the year, as long as the largest percentage of these injuries are recorded in this sector. The directorate will focus its field visits on construction sites in all the country’s governorates. Thus, professional reforms will be conducted in these sites, and strict legal measures will be taken against the employers, who do not comply with the regulations.”

As for the number of fatal workplace injuries in the Israel recorded by the Ministry of Labour between 2015 and 2019, the year 2019 witnessed the highest rate of fatal injuries, 28, followed by 26 injuries in 2015, 25 injuries in 2018, and 24 injuries in 2016, to record the lowest rate of documented injuries in 2017, which is 15. It is noticeable from these numbers that the recorded rates of fatal workplace injuries inside Israel are generally close during the past five years.

Regarding the number of recorded workplace injuries in the Israel in the period between 2015 and 2019, the years 2015, 2016 and 2017 witnessed the highest rates of injuries, reaching successively 427, 492 and 513, while the level of documentation in the Green Line decreased in 2018 and 2019, respectively, to 318 and 316.

Abdel Kareem Mardawi, head of the External Employment Unit, stated that the preventive measures would crystallise through conducting awareness-raising campaigns and education sessions for workers in the Israel about the health risks and physical injuries resulting from workplace accidents.