Police Investigate Only 25% of All Serious Workplace Accidents

Police did not open criminal investigations into 75% of workplace accidents that led to deaths or severe injuries of workers from 2016 to 2018, according to figures released under Israel’s freedom-of-information legislation.

Medical teams at a construction site in Petah Tikva were two workers were seriously injured, May 2019

Medical teams at a construction site in Petah Tikva were two workers were seriously injured, May 2019 (Photo: Magen David Adom)

Police records show that of 850 workplace accidents in which officers were called in during those three years, police opened criminal probes for only 212, or one quarter.

Kav LaOved, the workers rights’ advocacy group, filed the freedom-of-information request that made the figures public. The numbers were first reported on Thursday, June 13, in Haaretz. According to Kav LaOved, 124 workers died in the three years between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2018 in 118 fatal accidents at workplace in Israel. During this period another 585 accidents resulted in moderate or serious injuries. Nearly all of the fatal or serious accidents took place at construction sites.

The rate of 25% of criminal investigations opened constitutes a slight decline from previous years, the group says. Between 2011 and 2015, 27.6% of such accidents led to criminal investigations, according to figures cited by Haaretz that were reported by police to the Knesset.

While the rate of criminal probes did not rise, the absolute number did — as a result of the dramatic spike in the number of serious and fatal accidents. The years 2011 to 2015 saw an annual average of 160 workplace accidents. In 2016-2018, the average soared to 283 per year, an increase of 77%.

In response to the huge spike in workplace accidents, at the end of 2018 police established a special unit called Peles, under the aegis of its serious crimes unit Lahav 433, that specializes in accident investigation. However, according to Haaretz, the unit has opened investigations into only three of the 38 deadly accidents that have occurred thus far in 2019.