3 Construction Workers Die, Alleged Violation of Safety Rules

This week, three young workers lost their lives and three others were seriously injured at the construction sites in Tbilisi. Investigation is ongoing under Article 240 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, pertaining to violation of safety rules during mining, construction or other works.

On Wednesday, Nikoloz Salia, 31, died during the dismantling works of a building on Tsereteli Avenue, Didube District, Tbilisi. Three other workers were also caught in the ruins and are now in hospital.

The place where demolition works are underway belongs to the construction company Royal Group, whose representatives have yet to make an appearance at the site.

The company has received repeated warnings from the Labor Inspection Service due to the absence of relevant conditions, but experts on scene following the accident confirmed that the safety norms had still not been met.

“The standards here have been violated. The workers must not carry out dismantling works manually- a machine must be used,” Elza Jgerenaia, head of the Labor Inspection Service of Georgia, stressed after examining the site.

A day before the incident, a young worker, 27, fell off the building and died, allegedly due to the absence of safety standards.

Prior to this, a young worker was electrocuted during repair works on a construction in Digomi District. He fell from the building and died instantly.

In 2015, 14 workers died and 22 were injured on construction sites, while last year the number of workers killed reached 18, with 23 injured. According to the data of January-July 2017, 10 construction workers have died and 5 have been injured, allegedly due to improper working conditions.

Public Defender of Georgia, Ucha Nanuashvili, says that the number of such cases has increased of late, which indicates that the safety system is failing in the country.

“High rates of injuries and deaths of people in the workplace clearly indicate that the issue is very serious in Georgia and requires a timely, systemic and consistent approach in order to radically change the situation. Safety should be the main priority for the State, as it should for employers and employees,” the Ombudsman stated, going on to note that the Parliament of Georgia is currently discussing the draft Law on Labor Safety.

“It is important that the government is able to create a legislative framework that provides for healthy and safe working environments for all employees. However, the submitted version does not fully ensure the creation of an effective labor inspection mechanism and the protection of labor safety in the country,” Nanuashvili claimed.

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also share Public Defender’s position. They believe that the existing Labor Inspection Service, which only gives recommendations, is not efficient and that the Law on Labor Safety needs to be tightened.

Thea Morrison

31 July 2017 12:34