Fabian Demicoli

Reporting unsafe work practices


The
Occupational Health and Safety Authority has this week has issued a press
release in response to the photos being posted by the media showing unsafe work
practices.

Media and members of the general public are being urged to
immediately inform OHSA of any unsafe work practices in order to take the
necessary measures so as to safeguard the health and safety of persons involved
in the work activity, instead of leaving the same workers working in an unsafe
manner until OHSA takes the necessary action.

Whilst OHSA understands the interests of media and civic minded
persons in wanting to raise issues of unsafe work practices, such approach will
not reach the effectiveness desired if OHSA is not immediately informed. Most
of the time, photos are published hours and even days after the occurrence of
the unsafe work practice thus leaving the same person being exposed to serious
and imminent danger. OHSA adopts a confidentiality complaint reporting
procedure in order to secure the confidentiality of the complainant.

Occupational health and safety is a complex subject which
requires the cooperation of stakeholders and duty holders and it can only be
improved through a self-regulating process where all duty holders recognize
that it is in their best interest to adhere to their duties imposed by law.

In terms of the OHSA Act XXVII of 2000 and other subsidiary
regulations, employers have various legal obligations that must be fulfilled in
order to manage health and safety at the place of work. Employers have the general
duty of ensuring the health and safety at all times of all persons who may be
affected by the work being carried out for such employers. This duty is
considered to be wide in its scope and encompasses a series of other
obligations intended to fulfil such general duty.

Employers must have in place appropriate arrangements for the
effective planning, organization, control, monitoring and review of the
preventive and protective measures. The approach to be taken by employers must
be based on a well-defined management system based on prevention in particular
through the provision of risk assessments and implementation of control
measures based on the general principles of prevention laid down in the OHSA
Act. The general principles of prevention are set out in descending order of
preference with the best approach being the adequate control of risk. These
principles are intended to secure the best approach to address hazards and
risks which may be present in the place of work.

On the other hand, workers have also a number of duties that must
be fulfilled in order to ensure a safer and healthier workplace. Workers have
the duty to cooperate with their employer in matters pertaining to health and
safety and to safeguard their own health and safety and that of other who may
be affected by their actions.

With regards to construction work activities, OHSA urges all duty
holders to adopt a risk prevention approach from the beginning. This can be
only achieved if all duty holders in particular the client, contractors,
project supervisors and workers themselves adopt a collective approach towards
the implementation of control measures intended to prevent accidents at the
place of work.

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