Georgia’s deadliest industry: Labor inspectorate must immediately investigate death of 2 construction workers in Tbilisi

16 May, 2023

The Fair Labor Platform calls on Georgia’s Labor Inspection Service to immediately conduct an occupational safety investigation at the worksite where two construction workers died on May 14 in Tbilisi.

The two workers were killed when a slope collapsed during the construction of a retaining wall. The work was being performed by a company known as Ou Ni on behalf of the Chugureti district administration.

More than two years after equipping the labor inspectorate with a fully-fledged mandate, it is unfortunate that the state remains unable to ensure that companies provide safe working conditions for employees in dangerous industries, including construction. Work in Georgia’s construction sector continues to present unacceptable risks to life and health. Indeed, labor inspectorate statistics show that construction remains Georgia’s deadliest industry by total deaths: In 2021, there were 37 workplace accident deaths in Georgia, with 18 of them in the construction sector. The data was almost the same for 2022, with 16 out of 35 total fatalities coming in the construction sector.

Effective and proactive use of the labor inspectorate’s mandate is critical in preventing injuries and deaths in the construction sector. But the inspectorate appears to be facing serious challenges in fulfilling its mandate to carry out timely inspections — and systematic re-inspections — of hazardous employment sites. On top of this, it also appears there are issues at the municipal level, where construction permits are issued. Municipal authorities bear a responsibility to vet contractors to ensure guard against workplace deaths, injuries and environmental damage.

Based on the above, we call on:

  • The Labor Inspection Service to immediately inspect the worksite where the accident took place. They should thoroughly investigate the accident and use all available measures to hold the responsible person(s) accountable and guarantee future safety at the site;
  • The Prosecutor’s Office and the Ministry of Internal Affairs to ensure a timely, complete and effective investigation of the workplace fatalities, with the aim of identifying the responsible persons and ensuring full accountability.

Endorsing organizations:

  • Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF)
  • Social Justice Center
  • Tbilisi Metropolitan Independent Trade Union – “Ertoba 2013”
  • Solidarity Network
  • Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA)
  • Trade Union of Science, Education and Culture
  • Union of Social Workers – Independent Professional Union
  • Guild
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