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Microsoft contractor hit by health and safety violation claims at Israel datacentre building site

Microsoft declines to comment on a local media report that the site of its Israel datacentre campus has been subject to stoppage notices after two accidents there in two days

A construction site that is understood to form part of Microsoft’s recently announced Israel datacentre campus has been shut down for health and safety violations, it has emerged.

According to a local media report, work at the Modiin Technology Park was halted for several days after two accidents on the site within a day of each other earlier this month.

One incident resulted in a worker being seriously injured after a 7ft fall, and in the other, a worker was hit by debris after a wall collapsed.

It is understood the authorities issued a two-day work stoppage order, and had the option to extend the shutdown period for five more days if needed.

The media report also claimed that the company overseeing the work, Schnonfeld Engineering, was fined and received a summons to attend a meeting with Israel’s health and safety authorities.

A representative from Israel’s Ministry of Labor said in a statement: “The Safety Administration has determined that the company will be required to immediately appoint a safety supervisor and those responsible for the site, including the company's CEO, Schonfeld Engineering, will be summoned today for a hearing with the Safety Administration.”

Computer Weekly contacted Microsoft for comment on the story, but was told the company had nothing further to add at this time. Representatives for Schnonfeld did not respond to a request for a response.

Microsoft recently went public with its plans to build its first datacentre region in Israel, which has a provisional go-live date of 2021, although it remains to be seen whether the work stoppages will have any impact on that.

Read more about problematic datacentre builds

In a statement at the time, Michel van der Bel, president of Microsoft Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), said the project is a reinforcement of its ongoing commitment to the Israel market, which it entered in 1989 by opening its first local office there.

“Our planned region in Israel will join a growing number of EMEA markets recently made available, including Germany, Norway, South Africa and Switzerland,” said van der Bel.

“Offering Microsoft Azure and Office 365 from a datacentre region in Israel forms a key part of our investment and involvement in the startup nation, as infrastructure is an essential building block for the tech intensity that public sector entities and businesses need to embrace.”

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