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A construction worker fell from the Ilia Chavchavadze Literature-Memorial Museum in central Tbilisi on 20 June, while working on restoration works. After an initial examination of the site, the Ministry of Labour has concluded that safety rules were being violated.
‘Apparently, he fell from a scaffold’, Elza Jgerenaia, the head of the ministry’s Labour and Employment Department told journalist on 20 June. ‘The protection of labour safety rules implies having appropriate railings, protective belts and other details’ she added.
According to Jgerenaia, the man is in Aladashvili Clinic ‘in critical condition’.
The Tbilisi Development Fund, which is run by City Hall, is finding the restoration of the historical museum, which is located on Ivane Javakhishvili street.
Labour Safety Reform
According to official data from Georgia’s Interior Ministry, 270 workers died and 776 have been injured in 2011–2016 as a result of occupational accidents. The statistics have lead rights groups to claim that the high number of fatal occupational accidents in Georgia shows that labour rights are regularly violated and that the state fails to adequately address violations of safety rules.
After four miners died in May when a lift collapsed in a coal shaft in Tkibuli, in central Georgia. Protests broke out in Tbilisi, and the issue gained attention from the government. Later, on 25 May, Georgia’s Minister of Health, Labour, and Social Affairs, Davit Sergeenko, presented a legislative initiative to the Georgian government to reform the Labour Inspection Department, which works under the ministry.
The parliament is now mulling the reform, according to which a company will be warned, fined, or shut down for violating safety rules.
Violation of safety rules, if ‘the safety norms are not critically improper’, will be punished by a warning, and then a fine of ₾50–₾2,000 ($20-$830) for repeat offences.
If the labour safety norms are ‘critically improper’, the company will be fined ₾5,000 ($2,000) or shut down, depending on the severity of the violation.
The Tbilisi-based Human Rights Education and Monitoring Centre (EMC) criticised the draft law on 19 June, claiming it does not differentiate between small and larger companies. ‘A fine of ₾50–₾2,000 cannot be considered an adequate fine, especially for large employers’, EMC wrote.
The draft law has also faced criticism from labour rights groups for not providing labour inspectors with unconditional access to to workplaces, which they say would prevent them from properly carrying out their job.