The Malta Independent 23 June 2024, Sunday
View E-Paper

Justice Minister estimates recruitment of 55 new OHSA officers, doubling existing workforce

Tuesday, 30 April 2024, 13:33 Last update: about 3 months ago

Minister for Justice and the Construction Sector Jonathan Attard said Tuesday that efforts are currently underway on a recruitment programme, which could see the recruitment of 55 new Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OHSA) officers, more than doubling the existing workforce, in an effort to strengthen the authority's regulatory functions.

Attard also said that the new OHSA law which will reform the health and safety aspects in the construction industry will come into force this summer.

ADVERTISEMENT

He attended the conference named 'Empowering OHS practitioners: Setting higher standards for Safety Excellence', which was organized by the OHSA.

The aim of this conference was to discuss methods on how professionals in the health and safety field can improve standards and regulations in the workplace, in light of the reforms expected in the construction sector following the recommendations of the public inquiry into Jean Paul Sofia's death, who died in a construction site accident in December 2022.

Attard said that on the occasion of World Health and Safety Day in the workplace, this conference brought together various stakeholders to discuss the way forward for the sector.

He noted the success of the conference as a moment where even government commits itself to enact laws that will be enforced and make a difference in the sector, ensuring a regulatory framework that reflects today's requirements.

Attard said that government allocated an increase in the 2024 Budget to the OHSA, and this investment is intended for the authority to be equipped with additional resources to sustain more efficient and effective operations.

He said that efforts are underway to recruit additional OHSA officers to strengthen its regulatory function.

Attard estimated that this recruitment programme would mean an increase of 55 new employees, which would be equivalent to more than double the existing workforce of the authority.

Speaking about the signing of an agreement a few weeks ago between the OHSA and the University of Malta, Attard spoke of the importance of high standards in education in collaboration with associations to develop professional standards and good practice guidelines.

Attard also spoke about the need for a continuous training process, which is fundamental for a person to remain competent.

CEO of the OHSA Josianne Cutajar said that the need for dialogue between the concerned entities was felt, which was evidenced by the large attendance at this conference.

She noted that this was her first initiative in collaboration between OHSA, the Malta Occupational Safety & Health Practitioners Association (MOSHPA), the Union Tal-Professjonisti fis-Settur tas-Saħħa u s-Sigurta (UHSP), and the University of Malta to improve professional standards in this area.

"In light of reforms in the construction sector as well as in health and safety laws, this initiative is taking place at a crucial moment where stakeholders are coming together with a common goal and together paving the way for higher standards in health and safety in every workplace," Cutajar said.

English engineer Shaun Lundy was also invited to speak at the conference, where he explained how England faces similar challenges to those Malta faces in the construction sector.

The engineer said that competence in health and safety is established in law and accreditation can lead to individuals having better qualifications and experience. He explained how the Grenfell Tower incident had to give more importance to a higher level of competence in the UK.

MOSHPA President George Steve Darmanin spoke about the challenges when there are no standards in training. He spoke about the importance of the role of project supervisors and that they should have continuous training in the profession.

The conference was also addressed by Prof. Godfrey Baldacchino, David Saliba, and Dr. Mary Gauci who led discussions in groups on competence registration, continuous professional development, and guidance for project supervisors.


  • don't miss