Fabian Demicoli

Successful Seminar on Health and Safety for Business


GRTU has on Wednesday held a very
interesting half-day seminar on health and safety in business. This seminar was
successful in raising awareness on key issues that employers must be aware of,
for the benefit of their business and that of their employees. The seminar was
sponsored by Atlas Insurance PPC Ltd.

GRTU President Paul Abela opened the
seminar by thanking the employers present for their numerous attendance and
highlighted the role organisations such as the GRTU and the Occupational,
Health and Safety Authority (OHSA) play in reaching out to business in order to
help them become aware of how health and safety can be applied in their
business and how the simple things can make a big difference. Mr Abela
emphasized that health and safety legislation should not be difficult to apply
and must be sensitive to business especially SMEs. Mr Abela concluded by saying
that many small businesses are family run so keeping a safe and healthy
environment is more important for them.

Silvio Farrugia from OHSA highlighted
that implementing H&S policies in a business is easier and less costly than
facing an incident, fines and possibly having to run a business with an
employee less because the employee has suffered an injury at work. In addition
to this the company would be enhancing their corporate image and featuring in
the newspapers because an incident happened on the place of work doesn't look good.
Employers found in breach of their H&S obligations can receive a fine or be
even taken to court with the worst case scenario be imprisonment. It was
also highlighted that employers who have adopted a voluntary occupational
health and safety management system such as ILO-OSH 2001 or OHSAS 18000 series
had the opportunity to compete and receive recognition awards – e.g. OHSA good
practice awards. This year only very few companies applied which is a pity as
surely more companies have good health and safety work practices which they can
present.

Dr. Alessia Zammit Mckeon, a lawyer,
gave a more legal perspective and stated that an enterprise employing more than
4 workers must conduct a risk assessment, document this and update it. A risk
assessment must be carried out every time the company's environment or
circumstances change such as purchasing new equipment or employing a new member
of staff. For such an assessment one must check factors such as level of
hygiene, accessibility to emergency exits, whether equipment is properly
maintained and so on. An employer must remember that apart from assessing and
informing oneself about H&S, it is also important to inform, instruct and
supervise its employees.

Gaston Degiovanni, a
safety engineer gave practical tips of how to approach safety issues and how to
avoid incidents that can harm the company's employees by giving the most common
examples they encounter on a daily basis. The most common problems include:

  • Overloading of storage areas and glass shelving that
    can collapse
  • Storage areas are not easily accessible which will
    acquire over reaching and cause falls
  • Trip hazards due to absence of a cable management
    policy
  • Worn/damaged electrical cords
  • Improperly wired/ungrounded electrical outlets
  • Faulty equipment
  • Bad housekeeping
  • Wet/slippery floors
  • Dirty extraction hoods/ducts
  • Bad storage of flammable items
  • Lifting heavy cartons which will lead to back problems
  • Repetitive or forceful movement
  • Work carried out in awkward postures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 The final speaker in the conference
Abigail Mamo from GRTU presented practical tips to have a safer working and
shopping environment with regards to third-party violence, which means violence
though insults, treats and injury from a parson outside the enterprise on someone
that works within the enterprise. This for instance can be a client or a thief.
It was mentioned that an employer must protect its employees from third party
violence through training and preparing them for any eventuality. Employees
that have suffered third-party violence tend to absent themselves from work
more, have low working morale or quit, therefore it is in the interest of the
employer to tackle the issue. 3Million people around the EU working in commerce
experience some form of violence at work therefore EU Social Partners decided
to work together and issue a toolkit that can be applied by SMEs, full of
inexpensive practical tips. The main points from the toolkit presented was to
conduct an evaluation of the risk of the enterprise and the employees,
prevention by improving the shop layout, and training in conflict management
and being prepared for shop-lifting and robberies.

Several participants asked questions
with problems they encounter related to H&S on a daily basis. From the
questions it became evident that the law is very severe on businesses and
sometimes even if they have nothing to do with a case because they are only the
owners of a premises that was rented out to someone that did not observe the
conditions, or they have done everything in their power and an accident still
occurs, they are still kept responsible. GRTU will be taking up the issue to
see that an employer can carry the requirements and have a guarantee that he is
safe at law, irrespective of other people's negligence.

 The feedback was very positive
from participants and GRTU and its members would like to thank Atlas Insurance
PPC Ltd for sponsoring the event and organising it in collaboration with GRTU.

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