The following was sent to this website by Mark Gauci, chief executive of the Occupational Health and Safety Authority. He was reacting to an earlier post published this morning about a petition calling for the OHSA’s worked to be checked in view of deadly accidents on building sites.

I refer to your post ‘Italian entrepreneur launches petition for EU inspection of Malta construction sites’. Permit me to correct several errors which appear in the petition linked to your article.

In the first instance it needs to be highlighted that the national agency responsible for building safety is the Building and Construction Agency (BCA), and not OHSA. The two entities have been set up through different Acts of Parliament, and have been given different, albeit at times complementary roles in matters concerning construction activities.

One set of regulations issued under the Building Regulation Act is the Avoidance of Damage to Third Party Property Regulations, which has as its main scope that of avoiding incidents such as the building collapses mentioned in the petition and your post.

In so far as OHSA is concerned, and despite what is being claimed in the petition, OHSA’s set-up and operations have already been evaluated on three different occasions (since 2002) by the Senior Labour Inspectors Committee (which presented its evaluation reports to the European Commission), with the last report being presented in 2017. All reports commended OHSA for its professional set-up, the competence of its employees, its organisation and the work which it carries out. The reports also commented positively about the persistent downward trends in occupational fatalities and injuries. This essentially means that incident statistics (in so far as occupational health and safety are concerned) compare very positively with those obtained in other EU countries as evidenced by recent EUROSTAT figures.

This is not to say that all is rosy in the field of occupational health and safety – OHSA remains under-resourced; there are problems with enforcement which cannot be followed up by timely judicial decisions which are proportionate to the risk or gravity of the outcome for which a person is prosecuted. OHSA remains the most proactive among all stakeholders, despite the rights and obligations enshrined in the EU Treaty pertaining to the social partners, which are required to take meaningful action through tangible initiatives.

It is indeed unfortunate that erroneous media references to statutory roles as well as inaccurate information have resulted in people not being aware of the real situation. Instances such as this will also result in people not being aware of which entity to resort to in case of need.

I trust that the above information should be enough to prompt you to include a correction to your post.