16-year-old dies working at Tbilisi construction site
Another death has occurred at a construction site in Georgia: this time it was a 16-year-old teenager who worked on the construction of a 14-storey building on Dolabauri Street in the Isani district of Tbilisi. George Beshkenadze fell down the elevator shaft and died on the spot.
“Safety standards were violated at the construction site where the teenager was working”, inspector Maia Mikadze told reporters after inspecting the scene.
The Interior Ministry has already begun an investigation into what happened.
• The women working in Georgia’s dangerous mines
• I am so angry I can’t breathe – Georgia: stories of people injured at work
• Tkibuli – the Georgian city accustomed to death
RFE/RL reports that Giorgi Beshkenadze came to Tbilisi from the village of Gvimriani in the Lagodekhi District, after his father and brother died within a few years of one another.
RFE/RL also uncovered that in 2014, when Giorgi was 11 years old, he was sent to live in a family-type orphanage on the decision of social services. However, the child asked to be given the opportunity to return home, and after his family fulfilled certain conditions, Giorgi began to live at home again.
“He was very worried … he wanted to return to his mother,” recalls Eter Tskhakaia, a representative of the social welfare agency.
Giorgi and his mother were very poor: his mother worked as a seasonal worker on local farms. A representative of the Lagodekhi mayor’s office told Netgazeti that Giorgi and his mother received state benefits and financial assistance from the Red Cross.
Giorgi tried to help his mother and often signed up for any work he could get in his village. In June 2019, he came to work at a construction site in Tbilisi.
As the Georgian media write, he died before receiving his first salary. An investigation is ongoing as to how the company responsible for the construction site, Jevike Hospitaliti, could hire a teenager.
Public defender of Georgia Nino Lomjaria made a special statement in connection with the incident.
The Ombudswoman declared an “alarming situation” in general in terms of occupational safety in Georgia.
One of the reasons for this is that there are too few employees in the labor inspectorate, and the inspectorate as a whole lacks funding.
Another problem is that inspectors often do not have the right to visit facilities and assess how well the labor safety rules are followed.
These restrictions will be lifted starting in September 2019, the Ombudswoman said.
Another important problem, the public defender said, is that children are often brought in to do difficult and demanding work.
Thousands of Georgian Facebook users are demanding a swift and immediate solution to the problem of work-related deaths in the country.
A protest demonstration has been announced for July 19 outside the building of the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs. Its organisers say they demand from the new minister Ekaterina Tikaradze quick and real measures to improve labor safety standards.
Giorgi Beshkenadze will be buried in his native village on July 20.
Several figures testifying to the difficult situation with labor safety in Georgia:
•Giorgi Beshkenadze is the 13th worker to die at a construction workplace in Georgia in 2019
•In 2018, 199 people were injured in the workplace and 59 people died.
•From 2011 to 2018, 1,081 people were injured in the workplace in Georgia, 376 people died.
•In 2019, this is the second time a teenager has died at work. In January, a 12-year-old child died collecting scrap metal.
•According to a study of child labor in Georgia, 4.2 percent of children aged 5–17 years of age are employed in difficult labour conditions. 63.9 percent of them perform “dangerous work”.
•3.5% of children in Georgia do not attend school at all.
•According to the Georgian legislation, the age of employment is 16 years. However, it is forbidden to employ young people under 18 years of age for hard, harmful or dangerous work. At the same time, the legislation does not clearly define what is considered to be hard, harmful or dangerous work.