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Worker dies on Batumi construction site

23 March 2017
(Batumelebi)

A 63-year-old construction worker has died in hospital shortly after falling from a construction site in Batumi on 22 March. An investigation is ongoing for violations of health and safety rules during the construction.

Local media outlet Batumelebi quoted another worker at the site as saying that safety rules are not properly ensured by the construction company. However, the company has denied the claim, and says that it’s the workers who do not adhere to the rules.

The deceased had only been working at the site for 3–4 days. A representative of the construction company, Lamini G, told Batumelebi that they take ‘full responsibility for covering everything important for the family’ of the deceased.

A similar accident occurred in Tbilisi’s Vake district on 15 March. An investigation is ongoing for violations of health and safety rules in this case as well.

The high number of fatalities and injuries from occupational accidents in Georgia has alarmed civil society organisations, who point out the necessity of creating an effective labour inspection mechanism. According to official statistics, 270 workers died and 776 were injured in 2011–2016 as a result of occupational accidents.

Statistics on the number of people injured (in blue) and killed (in red), 2011–2016 (MIA/EMC)

A Labour Inspection Department was created in 2015, following the adoption of a labour code in 2013, to supervise safety at workplaces. However, statistics show that the number of occupational injuries and deaths has increased since then. This suggests, activists say, that the current labour inspections have proven ineffective.

The current legislation has been criticised for its significant limitations: the  Labour Inspection Department cannot inspect workplaces without the prior consent of an employer and recommendations issued following an inspection are not mandatory for private companies.

Rights organisation Human Rights Education and Monitoring Centre argues that the current mechanism does not effectively prevent occupational fatalities and fails to ensure safe working environment, which is the reason behind the increase in the number of fatalities.

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