Public Defender Echoes Death and Injuries of Workers

Unfortunately, in recent times, cases of death and injuries in the workplace have become an everyday reality. This is a hard reality of labour safety in the country. The fact that the state fails to avoid such severe consequences, refers to the complete failure of the system. Labour safety has not become a priority issue on the Government’s agenda; the urgency of the issue is not sufficiently mentioned by the officials. Currently the Parliament is considering a bill on labour safety, but it cannot fully provide the creation of an effective labour inspection mechanism or full protection of labour safety in the country.

According to the reports, today, on July 26, 2017, one worker died and several more were injured during dismantlement of a house on Sokhumi Street in Tbilisi; three workers were hospitalized. An investigation was launched under the second part of Article 240 of the Criminal Code.[1] The Public Defender offers sympathy to the family and relatives of the deceased.

According to the Didube district governor, the construction company Royal Group, which was dismantling the building, had been warned by the City Hall’s Supervision Service about safety norms several times. The last warning was issued a few days ago, on July 24.

According to the head of the Labour and Employment Policy Department of the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, primary examination of the building on Sokhumi Street revealed violation of labour safety norms. The dismantlement should not have been done by hand, but by the use of appropriate instruments.

According to the data provided to the Public Defender's Office in January 2017, as a result of the inspection of buildings carried out by the Tbilisi City Hall's Municipal Supervision Service specialists in 2016, proceedings were initiated in 1667 cases for violations of construction rules. 178 out of this concerned violations of construction safety rules. Proceedings were ceased in 122 cases due to the correction of the violations, 10 cases were still underway, while in 46 cases, decisions were made on the imposition of sanctions (violators were fined 3000 GEL). In 4 cases, the Service made a decision on the suspension of the construction, while later, 2 decrees were revoked, since the company eliminated the grounds for the suspension of the construction and provided safety norms. It is noteworthy that in the past, the Office revealed a case when the Supervision Service could not find violation of the safety rules, while the Labour Inspection Department identified some violations. In addition, it has been revealed that the Municipal Supervision Service does not document the inspections which cannot detect violations, which makes it impossible to monitor the Service activities, properly detect gaps and, if necessary, raise the issue of liability.

In the present case, questions arise regarding the efficiency of the Municipal Supervision Service. In particular, as it turns out, despite a number of warnings, it was impossible to avoid severe consequences. The Public Defender's Office will request relevant information about the case and assess the response of the relevant agency to the case.

[1] Violation of safety rules during mining, construction or other works, which results in death or other grave consequences.

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