Harsher penalties for employers, OHSA restructuring proposed in new White Paper

Public Works Minister launches White Paper aimed at restructuring the Occupational Health and Safety Authority and increasing penalties against employers caughting breaching laws

A new White Paper launched by the Planning Ministry will see harsher penalties dished to employers for breaching occupational health and safety rules.

Addressing a press conference on Friday, Planning Minister Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi said that the White Paper will see a restructuring of the Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OHSA) to strengthen the operational checks and balances of the authority.

“Once the public consultation is concluded, we will work on a new legislation rather then amendments. We will work on the good of previous years while introducing aspects that are better,” Zrinzo Azzopardi said on Friday.

Under the proposed restructuring, OHSA will consist of a governing board and a health and safety executive committee.

The executive committee will have the authority and responsibility of implementing the provisions of the new legislation. The governing board will be responsible for ensuring that the executive performs its corporate functions.

The executive committee will also be empowered to issue administrative instruments to regulate OHSA matters.

The new law will see a reform of the administrative penalty system to reduce dependence on the criminal courts. Instead, an Administrative Tribunal will be set up.

“Through an administrative penalty system the executive will help reduce dependence on criminals courts,” said OHSA CEO Mark Gauci. “This must not be confused with decriminalisation of anything.”

The proposed draft suggests a significant increase in applicable penalties. The penalties shall not be less than €1,000, which is currently €466, and not exceeding €50,000, which is currently €11,646, for each offense.

“The implementation of the new act would promote a much-needed compliance culture, provide an effective system of deterrence, and be transparent, equitable, and efficient,” Zrinzo Azzopardi concluded.