May 30, 2018 01:37 PM

Following Series of Fatal Work Accidents, China Blacklists Some Israeli Construction Sites

(CTech) — China has started blacklisting specific Israeli construction sites following a series of deadly work accidents, an Israeli state official said in an interview with Calcalist, speaking on condition of anonymity.

On May 7, 38-year-old Chinese citizen Chen Zhong died after falling from a 20-foot-high scaffolding at a Jerusalem construction site.

In 2017, China agreed to allocate 20,000 trained construction workers to Israel. The agreement pertained to 6,000 workers as a first stage, out of which only around 2,500 are currently working in Israel, according to the Israeli state official. A few hundred construction workers coming from China arrive in Israel each month, the official said.

According to the current agreement with Israeli authorities, Chinese citizens can start working on Israeli sites only after individual assignments have been approved by China’s embassy in Tel Aviv. So far, all requests pertaining to sites in the West Bank and Jerusalem have been denied, but in recent weeks, requests pertaining to real estate companies with a high rate of accidents are also being denied, the Israeli official said.

The agreement was signed due to the Israeli construction industry’s shortage of trained personnel. The rate of Israeli citizens working in construction is low, and Israelis joining the industry often aim to quickly move up to managerial positions. The industry is mostly manned by foreign nationals, including thousands of employees coming from the Palestinian Authority, Turkey, Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria and China.

Chen is the third construction worker to be killed on the job in a site operated by Solel Boneh Infrastructures Ltd., according to data collected by Kav LaOved, a Tel Aviv-based nonprofit organization dedicated to maintaining labor rights in the Israeli industry. Solel Boneh is a subsidiary of Shikun & Binui Ltd., one of Israel’s largest real estate companies.

Chen is also the fourth Chinese citizen to be killed on Israeli construction sites since August, according to Kav LaOved.

In 2015-16, deaths on construction sites amounted to 62% of all work-related deaths in Israel, an 11% increase compared to 2013-14, according to a report published in May by the Israeli State Comptroller, a government watchdog. According to the report, the state continually fails to investigate incidents and enforce laws and regulations regarding site safety.

According to Kav LaOved’s data, 15 people have died and 67 were moderately or severely injured working on Israeli construction sites since the beginning of the year.

This article was originally published by CTech.

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