Construction

The Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OHSA) has issued a number of fines following a series of inspections at places of work which resulted in the presence of “serious deficiencies in health and safety protection”.

These deficiencies, said the H&S regulator, may have led to physical injury or death at work.

It stressed that human life and health are priceless and should be given absolute priority, and warned that it will continue to take action against those who do not protect health and safety at work.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the OHSA said that it has carried out 3,724 inspections in 2021, during which it has stopped work in 478 workplaces as well as issued 689 administrative fines with a value of €256,750.

In addition, separate proceedings were initiated in 112 cases in the Court of Magistrates in Malta as well as in the Gozo Court, while 46 cases were decided (of which 45 were convicted), resulting in fines amounting to €68,750 for breaches of occupational health and safety laws.

This means that the average value of a fine issued by the OHSA was of €372.64, while the average fine imposed by the Courts was of €1,527.78.

The fines were imposed on various people, including company directors, some employers, some self-employed, as well as clients and project supervisors on construction projects.

Although most of the workplaces where deficiencies were noticed were construction sites there were also other places such as printing works and factories among others, it said.

In addition to a lack of protection of health and safety in general, a lack of risk assessment and signs of health and safety, fire-fighting measures and evacuation of workers were also found.

Some have failed to ensure that the freight lift installed in the workplace is examined by a competent person every six months and to send the report of this examination to the OHSA within 28 days of the date of the examination.

There were also those who failed to provide information to officers from the OHSA.

The statement comes after a spate of construction-related injuries and deaths, with the “dumping” of a worker on a pavement drawing national attention to the problem.

In comments made to BusinessNow.mt after the death of a 50-year-old Bulgarian worker on a construction site in Ħamrun, president of the Chamber of Construction Managers Jesmond Chetcuti asked “who is to blame” when “another worker left his home and family in the morning to earn a living and did not return home”?

“The photo of the building under construction tells the whole story,” said Mr Chetcuti. “Even from the outside – I do not even want to think how it is the inside – it is clear that falling from height is a serious issue here (in Malta).”

The Ħamrun building site were a 50-year-old worker fell to his death earlier this month. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

He continued: “Eighty per cent of the buildings under construction in Malta are the same. Workers working on roofs pouring concrete on uneven surfaces with no edge protection or the farce of some timber wall that falls over with the weight of a sparrow.”

Mr Chetcuti insisted that, “This situation cannot go on, or else all the talk of reform in the industry will be just that, ‘talk’,” and called on all those who have some sort of influence within the construction industry to make sure that every worker that leaves his home in the morning returns to his loved ones back safely.

For more information on legal obligations, guides or general questions about health and safety at work, one can contact the OHSA on 21247677, send an email to ohsa@gov.mt, or enter the authority’s Facebook page.

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