The Malta Independent 4 December 2023, Monday
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Increased penalties proposed in new health and safety white paper

Marc Galdes Friday, 28 April 2023, 13:52 Last update: about 8 months ago

A white paper proposing a new Health and Safety at Work Act puts forward the idea of increasing the applicable penalties for employers.

The minimum applicable penalty would increase from €466 to €1,000 and the maximum applicable penalty would increase from €11,646 to €50,000.

The White Paper was announced during a press conference on Friday by Public Works and Planning Minister Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi accompanied by the Chief Executive Office of the Occupational Health (OHSA) and Safety Authority Mark Gauci.


The white paper proposes a restructuring of the OHSA which aims at strengthening administrative powers to improve enforcement in the sector.

Zrinzo Azzopardi said that this white paper is open to public consultation and he appealed to all stakeholders to provide their input before an amendment to the law is tabled in parliament.

Zrinzo Azzopardi said that one of the most significant proposals was the setting up of a Health and Safety tribunal, which will reduce the dependence on the criminal court. Currently, the Act does not provide a system of appeal, but instead, the Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OHSA) has to start criminal proceedings when fines are not paid. To prevent these cases from going straight to court, the white paper proposes the setting up of a Health and Safety Tribunal.

The paper clarifies that the Tribunal shall be "without prejudice to proceedings in the Criminal Courts dealing with offences committed in relation to the presence of an immediate and serious risk to occupational health and safety or where there has resulted a place of work a fatality or serious injury or disease to any persons."

Administrative penalties up to € 1,500 would be decided by the Tribunal composed of one person (a lawyer with at least 5 years' experience) (by written petitions); For administrative penalties up to € 20,000, the tribunal will be composed of 3 persons (One retired judge or Magistrate acting as chairman, with two Members being professionally warranted persons of 5 years' experience. Appeal from the decisions given by the Health and Safety Tribunal shall go to the Court of Appeal (Inferior jurisdiction) only on points of law.

Zrinzo Azzopardi spoke very highly about this white paper and how its proposals will push the sector towards a "compliance culture." He said that in order to do this, the OHSA needed to involve the social partners. Therefore, the white paper mentions the setting up of a Health and Safety Council which will be tasked with giving a stronger voice to social partners.

The paper proposes restructuring the OHSA with the implementation of a governing board which shall be tasked with ensuring that the executive carries out its corporate business at a high level of governance. This will consist of a chairperson and a minimum of four members appointed by the Minister.

The new act also proposes giving the OHSA the ability to issue Administrative Instruments which would have the force of law, with the consent of the Minister.

"An administrative instrument may also create and impose administrative fines for the breach of any person of any provision of the New Act or of an administrative decision made under it."

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