Occupational Health and Safety is a complex subject in view of the fact that it touches multiple industries and has many facets. A lot of importance is given to the subject of occupational health and safety in the construction industry because of its visibility and association with a wide range of inherent risks, including the disproportionate presence of migrant workers, self-employed persons and SMEs, atypical work relationships, low-skilled workers who often come from diverse age groups and many other vulnerable groups. The construction industry is also an important economic player as it contributes significantly to the country’s GDP. This notwithstanding, risks in the sector need to be addressed for this sector to menain sustainable.
These issues were addressed in a seminar entitled Building in Safety, organised by the OHSA, to address the importance of health and safety in the construction industry. The seminar was organised in collaboration with the Kamra tal-Periti and targeted newly graduated architects as well as other well-established architects.
Addressing those present, the chairman of the OHSA, Emanuel Mallia, said that one needs to retain the focus on addressing the issue of health and safety in the field of construction because one needs to mitigate the accidents which involve workers in this field. While there was a reduction in the rate of accidents in the past 15 years, we still need to give our all to reduce this as much as we can.
The construction sector has evolved and so has the workforce. This brings with it a number of challenges. Age differences present different challenges. Multi-ethnicity also presents a number of challenges, which can also impinge on the health and safety of the workers. Different languages and communications issues need also to be addressed and seen from the perspective of occupational health and safety.
The function of Health and Safety isn’t limited to the workers or their employer. Everyone is responsible to ensure that there is effectiveness in the way preventive measures are taken. Health and Safety measures need to be taken even at planning and design level, to ensure that the notion of healthy and safe work places is ingrained in a holistic manner throughout the whole industry.