It is estimated that accidents at places of work cost the country some 35 million euro per year. This was stated by the Chief Executive of the Occupational Health and Safety Authority, Dr Mark Gauci. The Chief Executive pointed out that the Authority is beefing up its enforcement and there appears to be a drop in accidents, but a lot still remains to be done to reduce dangers at workplaces.
On average, during the past 16 years – 2002 to 2017 – some 3,600 workers were injured annually in work-related accidents. During the same period an average of six workers per year lost their lives, although fatalities have dropped in recent years, with more awareness being created about safety at workplaces.
The OHSA Chief Executive stressed that although a drop has been registered, much still remains to be done.
Dr Gauci pointed out that as a result of research carried out by the Authority, it is estimated that these work-related accidents cost the country millions of euro per year in benefits and hospital treatment.
“When one includes and takes into consideration absences from work, loss of productivity and other factors, the figure goes up to 35 million euro. One has to state that this 35 million euro figure is on the conservative side, because if one had to include all related expenses, it would be much higher.”
As a result of enforcement actions last year, the Authority issued more than 500 fines for infringements. The amounts totalled 184,000 euro.
Dr Gauci added that more serious cases ended up in Court, which can impose a maximum fine of 11,000 euro and up to two years in jail. Cases which end up in Court are also increasing.
“Two or three years ago we would have two sittings per year assigned to OHSA to arraign transgressors. Last year the sittings went up to four. This year we are considering more Court sittings – between five and six per year. This is obviously not sufficient, as there are a great number of transgressors against whom the OHSA is waiting to start proceedings, as the cases against them have still not started,” Dr Gauci added.
The Chief Executive pointed out that the Authority presently has 14 inspectors, who have to cope with all workplaces. Dr Gauci added that with additional human resources the Authority could increase its effectiveness in monitoring places of work.