The Malta Independent 21 April 2024, Sunday
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TMID Editorial: Good news for construction enforcement

Monday, 26 February 2024, 13:20 Last update: about 3 months ago

News last week that catches the eye when it comes to the construction industry is that new rules for the construction of freestanding buildings are being introduced, thereby closing a number of loopholes surrounding such sites which were exposed in the death of Jean Paul Sofia.

"These amendments will continue raising standards and establishing clear responsibility in the interests of third parties and construction site workers," a government statement read.

Through these amendments, stand-alone sites that do not touch other properties not only need to adhere to certain conditions provided at law when it comes to times, hoarding, excessive dust, noise, cleaning of the area, pavements, roads and site notices, but will also need to have insurance, the government statement read.

"This will mean that Clearance/Acceptance Notices will not be issued by the BCA unless there is insurance coverage in place and the documentation has been presented to the authority. In cases where the conditions provided at law are breached, the authority would be able to stop works and impose sanctions."

This means that the BCA will have clear oversight over such sites.

This has closed a loophole which existed wherein there was no authority actually legally responsible with the enforcement of building sites such as the one which collapsed, resulting in the death of the young Jean Paul Sofia.

The public inquiry into his death was what ultimately exposed this loophole, and it is a loophole which persisted for a number of months, with The Malta Independent’s past editorials urging for it to be closed.

The fact that this change has now been made adds some peace of mind for construction workers working on sites such as this, and will no doubt increase the standards of safety when it comes to the construction sector, precisely because there is now at the very least an authority responsible for enforcing sites such as these.

It is also positive to see that the government is taking heed of what was revealed during the public inquiry into Jean Paul Sofia’s death – one augurs that other recommendations which will be no doubt made are taken onboard as well.

One also augurs that the government will increase the resources available to the authorities responsible for enforcing health and safety – such as the OHSA – and for enforcing the standards in the construction industry as a whole – such as the BCA – so that the industry can become safer for everyone: those who work in it, those affected by it, and those quite simply forced to live around it.

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