Russia: OSH violations resulted in death of construction worker

13 February 2020 12:51

On 31 January 2020, during the dismantling of the Sports and Concert Complex (SCC) in St-Petersburg, a worker was killed because of serious violations of occupational health and safety rules.

The SCC arena was built forty years ago and became a historical part of the neighborhood landscape. However, last year, despites public protests, the St-Petersburg government decided to destroy the arena and build the biggest ice hockey arena in Europe by 2023. 

Th SCC dismantling process was planned hurriedly, not carefully,  with the involvement of several sub-contractors. According to the state investigation on the day of the arena collapse, four workers were on the site. State authorities did not provide details on which company was responsible.

One of the workers placed a video camera on his helmet to film how the work was organized. When occupational health and safety experts saw the video, they acknowledged that technological processes were not properly used, and occupational health and safety rules were seriously breached. According to experts, it is the responsibility of the company that organized the dismantling work. They cited the fact that workers were sent to the roof without proper equipment and with incorrect procedures to do the job. 

As a result, the sports arena collapsed, and one worker died. He was a 29-year old worker from Petrozavodsk (a city in the Northern part of Russia). The St-Petersburg government promised to investigate the case and pay compensation to the worker’s family. 

“Construction work or dismantling buildings can be very dangerous if occupational health and safety rules are not respected, we didn’t invent them to annoy workers or companies, but to keep people safe. That is at the heart of our work as a union. Conditions are especially dangerous if work is rushed. When people are forced to work under unsafe conditions tragedies are inevitable,” said Coen van der Veer, BWI European Regional Representative

“We express our deep condolences to the family of the worker who died in St-Petersburg. There will never be compensations that restores a lost life or helps you grow back a lost limb. Precautionary measures are essential because safe work in construction is a lifesaving issue,” Coen concluded. 

In a reaction to the tragic death, BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson said, “Every day, in all regions of the world, workers perish because of avoidable accidents. Some of them, we hear about, like this one. Most of them are invisible to the public. This is a dramatic example of death that is especially deplorable because it involves sports, which are intended to be celebrations of life, and because it is does not have to happen. Buildings should be based and constructed on the work and skills of human beings, not on their flesh and blood.”