Following the General Workers Union (GWU) request, the social partners discussed health and safety at the workplace. The meeting was addressed by the Minister for Public Works and Planning Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi, the Parliamentary Secretary for Social Dialogue Andy Ellul together with the CEO of occupational Health ad Safety Authority (OHSA) Dr Mark Gauci.
In light of the fact that a number of accidents, that even lead to deaths, at the workplace are taking place, the GWU felt the importance of discussing this topic at MCESD level. The aim of this meeting was for the social partners, the OHSA, and Government representatives to discuss the way forward of what needs to be done to avoid as much accidents as possible at the workplace, as well as the need to do more enforcement.
Minister Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi gave an explanation through a survey, commissioned by the Ministry for Public Works and Planning, on the public opinion on health and safety at the workplace. The social partners had the opportunity to see a graphic view of the main points that emerged from this survey.
The Minister congratulated MCESD for taking this initiative to give particular importance to discuss this topic. He stressed that there is a need for more knowledge and education so that the culture of health and safety at the workplace is strengthened and understanding that this is a moral obligation; that the worker has the necessary security at work.
For his part, the Parliamentary Secretary Andy Ellul said that it is good to discuss the laws that we want to make and improve to see that there really is safety at the workplace. However, he emphasised that it is important that laws are followed and that there are worthy enforcements where possible at the place of work. He also added that in this regard, there is also a need for a change in mentality so that everyone will observe the existent safety and health standards.
The Parliamentary Secretary referred that one of the problems we are facing in the construction labor market is the lack of skilled workers. He said that many are resorting to foreign workers who lack skills, and stated that this is something which is bringing in new challenges as time is needed until these workers are given the necessary training.
The CEO of OHSA Dr Mark Gauci explained the role of this Authority and gave a detailed presentation to the social partners about accidents at the workplace with reference to perceptions and reality.