Construction: 5 immediate changes

After receiving the public inquiry report into Jean Paul Sofia's death at a Corradino construction site in December 2022, the Prime Minister confirmed the government's intention to pursue construction sector reforms and implement the report's recommendations.

The Government has announced changes that it intends to carry out in the construction sector. Whilst some of these recommendations are already underway, others are part of the electoral manifesto, on which the Government has a mandate.

Prime Minister Robert Abela yesterday announced five immediate initiatives that the Government has started to implement and are of immediate priority.

1. Helping aggravated citizens

This action is meant to enhance citizens’ ability to express concerns about rule violations through improved and more accessible systems. To support this, the Government will offer professional assistance from lawyers and architects. Additionally, the Commissioner for Environment and Planning at the Office of the Ombudsman will have an expanded mandate to include construction issues.

2. A centralised unit to oversee enforcement

Enforcement efforts will be further strengthened through the establishment of a centralised unit responsible for overseeing enforcement activities within the sector. Alongside this, a dedicated helpline will be introduced to focus on issues related to the field.

3 A reformed OHSA law

By summer, the Government will introduce a new reform to the Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OHSA) law, aimed at improving health and safety regulations. The OHSA is the regulatory body responsible for promoting and ensuring workplace health and safety. It is tasked with enforcing legislation related to occupational health and safety, conducting inspections and investigations in workplaces, and providing information, education, and advice on health and safety practices to employers and employees. Its goal is to reduce work-related injuries, accidents, and ill health by ensuring that work environments are safe and that both employers and employees comply with health and safety laws.

4 No distinction betwen stand-alone buildings and the rest

In the upcoming weeks, the differentiation between stand-alone buildings and other types of buildings will be eliminated. Through these revisions, sites that are stand-alone, meaning they do not touch or affect adjacent third-party properties, will be required to comply with specific legal conditions regarding construction times, hoarding, dust control, noise levels, cleanliness of surrounding areas, pavements, roads, and site notices, among other factors. Additionally, these sites must be insured. As a result, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) will not issue a clearance/acceptance notice unless there is active insurance and its documentation has been submitted to the authority. Should there be any violation of the stipulated conditions, the authority will have the power to halt the construction activities and impose penalties. These incremental changes to the law signify the Authority’s expanding involvement, particularly in the development of stand-alone sites.

5 An audit on land allocation processes

Despite the fact that the 484-page public inquiry report published on Wednesday found no connection between the allocation of the land and the incident that happened in Kordin and caused the tragic death of Jean-Paul Sofia in December 2022, the Government has declared that it has taken note of the criticism on how the allocation was made and will order an audit of land allocation processes, to update where necessary.

A dedicated inter-ministerial committee

The Prime Minister has established an inter-ministerial committee, under the guidance of Glenn Micallef, who serves as the Head of the Secretariat at the Prime Minister’s Office, to manage the execution of the 39 recommendations made by the public inquiry board.

This announcement, along with the five immediate action points mentioned above, was made at a press briefing held at the Auberge de Castille.

Prime Minister Abela emphasised the government’s commitment to raising the bar within the construction sector and promoting an industry that prioritises the highest standards.

Photo: Quang Nguyen Vinh

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