The Malta Independent 6 December 2023, Wednesday
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Government planning ‘to revitalise’ OHSA through new regulatory framework - minister

Sabrina Zammit Monday, 25 September 2023, 15:38 Last update: about 3 months ago

The government is planning to give a new lease of life to the Occupational Health and Safety Authority through a new regulatory framework that will strengthen its position and enable it to work more efficiently, Planning Minister Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi said Monday.

Replying to questions by The Malta Independent, the minister also said that the authority’s resources will be improved to allow it to function better.


Zrinzo Azzopardi was referred to an interview given by the outgoing CEO of the OHSA, Mark Gauci, who said that the authority was intentionally kept small because politicians believed that its growth would stifle the economy.

In his replies, the minister said that a white paper had been drawn up earlier this year and the next step is for new legislation to be passed through Parliament with the intention of giving the OHSA a fresh beginning.

He said it is important that, besides strengthening of the OHSA, all the stakeholders, including the employers, realise that health and safety must be given priority at the workplace.

The Times of Malta reported that the "outgoing CEO of the health and safety authority feels the watchdog was always kept small and not given enough resources because politicians feared too much enforcement would stifle the economy and irk businesses people."

Asked for his reaction, he said that the authority is continuously working on its infrastructure. When pressed on whether he denies there had been any political involvement, he avoided the question.

He said that with the ongoing works on the white paper, people responsible for construction will understand their responsibilities and be kept in check.

As the ongoing Jean Paul Sofia public inquiry keeps on developing, he was asked about testimony in the public inquiry that the licensing of contractors was drafted in 2021, but were published later, in 2023. On this matter Zrinzo Azzopardi was asked whether he believes that his position as a minister is still tenable.

"Right now, we are going through reforms, reforms which are needed, and I am determined to keep bringing these reforms...what I can say is that since my appointment as minister we have kept building on the good already present, we changed and introduced new laws that needed to be introduced for a long time".

On the OHSA's human resources situation, he said that the authority has just concluded a collective agreement with the ministry "for the betterment of the current employees and to make the positions more attractive."

He said that the authority's business model "is to keep growing".

Apart from human resources, he said that there is going to be more focus on raising awareness amongst the public about health and safety at the place of work.


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