Fabian Demicoli

GRTU seeks to increase collaboration with OHSA for the benefit of its members

 GRTU officials have this week met officials from the Occupational, Health and Safety Authority (OHSA) led by Dr Mark Gauci to discuss how both bodied can work closer for the benefit of the private sector.

 

GRTU called the meeting following publication of two Legal Notices earlier this year by the same OHSA. The meeting was called because the GRTU feels its members would benefit from more direct contact with the OHSA, through the GRTU, in the areas such as improved access to information, training, funding for adherence with standards, etc… The GRTU had in fact today week – 17.02.12 – congratulated the OHSA on the first legal notice it had issued this year, since the fines were of a civil nature and not criminal, however it had criticized the OHSA on the same legal notice as the GRTU wanted to see the same efforts by the OHSA to educate and not only to penalize.

The GRTU believes that there is much space for improvement in the way the private sector are guided. It is not enough to publish something on a website or through a legal notice and pretend that the private sector is to follow automatically. Health and Safety at work is an important issue, especially for small businesses who as a majority employ their family members or who's employees have been with them for a long time and therefore their health and safety is important. At the same time however their prime task and objective during a day is to do business and they therefore cannot be expected to spend a day in front of their computer monitoring for new rules and regulations that may affect them. A case in point is the second Legal Notice issued by the OHSA on maximum exposure to certain chemical agents at work. How many in the private sector affected by this law know about this obligation and what it means for them?

The GRTU has therefore discussed with the OHSA how the information flow will successfully also flow through the GRTU and how the approach of the authority, when providing information to the private sector, will become more dynamic and interactive.

The OHSA reminded the GRTU that they are a bit low on resources and therefore cannot concede to GRTU's request of holding a two hour consultation session for a particular sector every month. Following however pressure for the GRTU, as battling with limited resources is something that is common to practically everyone in Malta and the importance justifies the effort, the OHSA did however agree to collaborate with the GRTU according to the work they had at hand. Prior to enforcement they would be doing, according to the legal notice they publish, etc…

GRTU is pleased with this arrangement and considers it to be a good start which will lead to a more effective regard of OHS standards. The GRTU and the OHSA have already identified a number of topics and sectors that will be tackled during the coming year.

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