Reports from earlier in the month found that thousands of Chinese construction workers are going to be entering Israel. The news came as the Ministry of Finance and senior officials in the construction industry gathered in China to select 6,000 construction workers to enter Israel.

 Miniature of buildings construction at Mini Israel - a miniature park located near Latrun

Miniature of buildings construction at Mini Israel – a miniature park located near Latrun

The move comes at a time when Israeli construction sites suffered their 18th death of the year on August 7.

Israel’s reasoning for bringing in Chinese workers into the construction industry is to help fight against rising housing costs. The government was forced into contracting foreign labor, often a lot cheaper, as construction companies didn’t increase the housing supply.

Construction companies have been selected by the ministry in the past to begin building in 2017. Five companies from China submitted bids to begin building houses. The companies granted authorization will also need to import Chinese workers to begin working on projects.

Is Israel ready for an influx of foreign workers in the construction industry?

The Washington Times reports that tens of thousands of workers are killed in workplace accidents per year. Ignoring the coal miner deaths, there are a lot of construction deaths in the country every year. About 35% of all workplace accidents are in the construction field in China.

Maintaining a low level of deaths and incidents for the Chinese workers that are brought into Israel will need to be a top priority for management.

Training is a must for these individuals who are accustomed to an environment where deaths and accidents are a part of life. Site management safety training is a must and will cover such areas as:

  • Work assessment
  • Risk assessment
  • Health and safety law

Developing a safe work environment will be the role of management. Breaking through the language and cultural barrier will be difficult for Israeli construction companies. Management teams will be tasked with trying to relay complex safety information in a manner that makes sense.

Lax construction laws in China have led to thousands of deaths in the past five years. China’s “quality” of construction must also be considered. The country had six bridges collapse between July 2011 and August 2012.

A construction lift fell 30 floors, killing 19 workers at once.

The number of deaths from the single lift accident is more than Israel has experienced in the first eight months of 2017.

Construction companies and the ministry may be welcoming a massive safety risk in Israel. Regulations in China are often ignored, leading to work safety issues that far surpass the rest of the world.

How do we protect the lives of residents in Israel?

That’s a question that the ministry will have to answer. Strict regulations and screenings need to be followed. Punishment needs to be handed down to workers and employers who fail to meet the high safety standards we enjoy in Israel’s construction industry.

The screening process of the 20,000 Chinese workers, 7,200 randomly selected and the 6,000, that will enter Israel needs to be strict. Workers need to understand that safety, competence and longevity are a must to help curb Israel’s shortage in home building.