The head of the public organization trying to help the families of injured constructors has spoken to our journal about the pitfalls of this work.
The Executive Secretary of the Public Council for self-regulation development, Sergey AFANASIEV, answers our journal’s questions.
— Mr Afanasiev, what does the Public Council for self-regulation development survive? Who supports and finances you?
— We are a public organization and we live on the modest dues of our members. Our expenditures are small. We manage to conduct all our work via the efforts of several team members. We have about 30 so-called ‘average agents’ in the regions - they are self-financed, like lawyers, and we provide for their methodical support.
— I see. Not so long ago, a precedent-setting case in the history of Russian self-regulation took place. A SRO paid out money from the indemnification fund to the family of a constructor who perished. And your organization played an important role in the case.
— The National Constructors Association sends our Council information on accidents and emergencies at construction sites in different regions, and the case you are talking about was taken into consideration, among others.
On June 13th 2015, a 37-year-old assembler of “IntelTechYug” Ltd., Stanislav Azenwasser, fell 20 meters and later died because of his injuries. It happened during the course of construction work on the site of the digital terrestrial TV broadcasting center construction in the Karmaskaly district of the Republic of Bashkortostan.
Having learnt of the accident, our team began struggling for the family of the dead man to receive their due reimbursement (ie. insurance benefit). We managed to do this due to the efforts of many people.
First of all, I must mention the NOSTROY Committee for insurance and financial tools of the construction market and its Chairman, Nikita Zaguskin, and also the member of the NOSTROY Council, and the Chair of Board of the Constructors’ Union of the Republic of Bashkortostan, Rashit Mamleev who provided the necessary help in Ufa.
Some great work was done by our team member Peter Kotenkov: he met the contractor’s representatives (the federal telecom company) in Moscow, went to Bashkortostan, spoke with the investigating authorities, visited the hospitals where the injured man had been treated and where he died, and held some correspondence with the labour inspectors. The documents confirmed 100% the fact that the accident took place on the construction site, and it happened because the employer broke labour condition norms, as was proven by the results.
— Was it resolved by law?
— According to the Urban Development Code, a court decision is not a compulsory procedure in such a case. As a result of our work, we managed to force an SRO – “Railway complexes constructors” – to enter the case into their books voluntarily and pay out reimbursement from its indemnification fund.
— How much did the family of the perished assembler receive?
— One million roubles. But bear in mind that reimbursement in such cases are made above all other compensations. Of course, social insurance is guaranteed to all those who work officially. Sometimes, enterprises allocate money for treatment, but this was the first time that reimbursement from an indemnification fund was made.
— Does that mean that this case is the first and only case in Russia?
— Exactly, and we are glad it has occurred at last.
— Did the perished man have children?
— No, his family comprised of a 70-year-old mother and a sister. According to the Urban Development Code, the mother was the person who had the right to receive the corresponding reimbursement.
The reimbursement was done in Rostov-on-Don, where the mother lives. The local Chamber of Commerce and Industry helped us with it.
— And there are many families who did not receive anything from indemnification funds. Have you got statistics on them?
— As a reminder, the amendment in the Urban Development Code on the reimbursement to individuals came into being in the summer of 2013 – almost three years ago. According to this article, the SRO must pay money for harm done both to organizations and individuals, for severe and moderately severe injuries, as well as lethal cases.
In these three years, 1,200 people perished on Russian construction sites. By the way, 2015 was less tragic – perhaps because of construction work slowing down during the crisis. In 2015, 374 people died, and twice as many people were injured. But nobody received any money.
— But you keep on struggling for the sake of constructors’ families?
— Of course. We are currently preparing 10 cases for court, and 30 cases are at the stage of investigation: in Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Ekaterinburg, Yaroslavl and some others cities.
— So, there is hope to win at least some of the cases?
— There are hopes, but not high hopes – about 30%. The procedure itself is very complicated. Developers, contractors, and construction arrangers are concealing the facts and hiding evidence of their wrongdoings.
They rewrite registration books, and it turns out that they did not send a given builder to an object, or he was not noted as being on the staff, and so has nothing to do with them, etc. They send witnesses to other construction sites and there are no surprises - no ganger would be responsible in the criminal order, nor would they go to court for a worker. That’s why they start sweeping everything under the rug at once, without administrative requirements…
— Everybody remembers the accident in Tumen, where a residential block of flats fell down. What was the result?
— As it turned out, it was the designers’ and constructors’ fault. 19 people perished and dozens were injured. They were mainly Moldovan citizens. Our agents visited the injured in hospital to get explanations and offer services for reimbursement from an indemnification fund, but people were so frightened that they refused to explain anything. They said they could give explanations after they returned to their motherland, but the developer and the contractor did everything to avoid any reimbursement.
For example, the developer was said to have ordered everyone not to enter the object and not to work there the week before. And we have no doubt that the resolution was backdated. Later it turned out that only one person out of the 19 who perished there had been taken on the staff. And the rest were said to have been invited on unknown conditions. As a result, nobody received a penny.
— However, there is a precedent now. And we hope that this practice will develop further. We wish you success and more court victories!