Migrant workers in Malta are oftentimes vulnerable to rampant abuse with little information on who to reach out to, as the recent case concerning Lamin Jaiteh, a 32-year-old man who was abandoned on the roadside after sustaining serious injuries from a two-storey fall on a construction site he was working on, shows.
That’s where the Operational Health and Safety Authority can step in.
Its guidance document provides crucial information like the duties of employers with regards to health and safety; what the adequate safety system and equipment are; and details on well-maintained machinery, among others.
The document, which is clear and easy for anyone to follow, lets all workers know exactly what legal rights they are entitled to – and to help guarantee that both employers and employees are able to refuse unsafe work and ensure that anyone can enter the workplace without fear of injury, violence, or harassment.
It should be made clear that the obligation to safeguard occupational health and safety extends to all workers, irrespective of their employment relationship or their country of origin. In fact, the duties of an employer actually become more stringent when they engage foreign workers since they are considered a vulnerable group and are granted specific protections.
However, the guide acts as a platform to facilitate effective communication and consultation with the appropriate authorities to ensure action is taken.
The document is translated into eight languages (Arabic, Bangla, French, German, Italian, Shqip, Somali and Tigrinya) and has already been circulated among migrant and human rights organisations in the country. Still, some are not aware that there is such a useful tool at their disposal.
It is available to download free of charge through OHSA’s website, Facebook page(@ohsamalta) or through scanning a QR-code.
The guide has become even more important in recent days following the shocking incident involving Jameith Lamin.
On 28th September, Lamin fell from a two-storey height from a construction site he was working on. Told by his boss that he’d be taken to hospital, he was instead discarded on a pavement, likely because he was working without a permit. He was later found by passersby, who alerted authorities.
Glen Farrugia of J&G Contractors Limited has been charged with 20 offences, ranging from criminal offences to breaches of health and safety regulations and employment law.
However, this incident is not an isolated one with the construction industry experiencing a number of deaths and serious injuries throughout the year. Enforcement has improved in recent years, but many crucial authorities like the OHSA and others do not have the resources to be vigilant on every construction site in the country every single day.
This is why it is of the utmost importance that duty holders, especially the employer, take responsibility and provide appropriate safety measures on their sites – while employees ensure that they are informed of their rights in such a perilous occupation.
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