National OSH Strategy - Malta

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0 Introduction

In the European Union, the strategic framework on OHS is used to develop the EU policy on OHS and coordinate the national policies of the Member States. The EU strategic framework identifies key challenges and strategic objectives for health and safety at work and presents actions and instruments to address these in the coming years.

The EU strategic framework (2021 – 2027) addresses the changing needs in worker’s protection brought by the digital and green transitions, new forms of work and the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, the framework will continue to address traditional occupational safety and health risks, such as risks of accidents at work, exposure to hazardous chemicals musculoskeletal disorders or mental health problems. The success of the framework depends on its implementation at EU, national, sectoral and enterprise levels.

National strategies are well known as a policy instrument to enhance the effectiveness of an OSH system through the collaborative and smart use of resources. They include approaches such as priority setting, prior action defining and action plans. The Commission calls on Member States to update and draw up their national occupational safety and health strategies in line with this strategic framework - in cooperation with social partners - to ensure that the new measures reach the workplace.

In Malta, the National entity responsible for Occupational Health and Safety is the Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OHSA) established by the OHSA Act XXVII of 2000. OHSA is of central importance in developing and driving national level occupational health and strategy and programmes, initiatives and policies.

1 Basic information

In 2007, the OHSA published the Strategic Plan 2007 to 2012, a national plan for occupational health and safety ("Occupational Health and Safety: Consolidating achievements and engaging further commitment, Strategic plan: 2007 to 2012"). The following Strategic Plan for Occupational Health and Safety 2014-2020 was published in 2015[1].

The current National OHS Strategy is the Strategic Plan for Occupational Health and Safety 2022-2027.

2 Background and the perceived problem

The last 20 years have seen significant improvement in health and safety at work in Malta. Apart from new legislative frameworks particularly undertaken to transpose European directives and partnerships garnered with entities and stakeholders at the national and international level, there has also been a substantial downward trend in both the occupational accident and fatality rates during this period.

This new strategic plan will continue to build where the previous one left off, particularly in the area of prevention of risks, accidents and illnesses. It will also focus on managing change brought by green, digital and demographic transitions as well as changes to the traditional work environment, and on increasing preparedness for any potential future crises such as the one that COVID-19 brought about.

Vision: The development of a culture which goes beyond the workplace, which adopts a holistic view of health and that values risk prevention.

  • The Maltese workplace will be an environment where health and safety are not considered as afterthoughts but are integrated throughout all work systems and processes.
  • Appropriate preventative measures will be in place in all workplaces in Malta to minimise the possibility and severity of occupational incidents and illness. The goal is zero preventable incidents that can affect health and safety.
  • Employers and employees will be aware of the importance of preventative health and safety measures, and will have the knowledge, expertise, and commitment to apply these measures to their workplace. The OHSA will be a partner to organisations, working together to improve health and safety at every opportunity.
  • Within the context of the European Union, Malta will participate effectively in discussions regarding the continuous development of occupational health and safety levels.

3 Main characteristics and objectives of the OHS-strategy (activity plan)

The Strategic Plan for Occupational Health and Safety 2014-2020 addresses three main objectives and activities in five areas:

Objective 1: anticipating and managing change in the new world of work brought about by the green, digital and demographic transitions

Objective 2: improving prevention of workplace accidents and illnesses

Objective 3: increasing preparedness for any potential future health crises.

Activity area 1: Legislation, Compliance and Enforcement

Activity area 2: Capacity Building at OHSA

Activity area 3: Communicating the benefits of OHS

Activity area 4: Taking appropriate action against existing and emerging risks

Activity area 5: Evaluating effectiveness of actions taken

4 Details of the strategy and activity plan

Axis description

In achieving these stated objectives, action will be taken by OHSA in the following five areas. The activities comprise the desired outcomes or situations, the realisation of activities and the main deliveries.:

Activity area 1: Legislation, Compliance and Enforcement

Desired outcomes:

  • Legislation and policies which are relevant, coherent, simple, effective, and fully aligned with EU directives and with the reality of today’s work in Malta without having any unnecessary burdensome and bureaucratic provisions.
  • The wide availability and dissemination of information and guidance and other tools which aid compliance.
  • Compliant duty holders who understand the value and benefits of adequate health and safety levels, and who proactively act without the need of direct intervention from the OHSA through a process of self-regulation.
  • A reformed and effective system of deterrence which is applied transparently, equitably and with the least administrative burden possible on OHSA.

Activity area 2: Capacity Building at OHSA

Desired situation:

All employees are fully competent for the tasks assigned to them, including on additional tasks arising as a result of EU Membership commitment, legislative changes and changes in the world of work. In order for OHSA to be able to regulate and enforce OHS adequately, it needs to operate at full complement with all its employees being trained to a high degree of competence and proficiency, while at the same time investing also in IT and in IT support infrastructure. Following the drawing up of its Business Plan during the previous strategic plan which charts OHSA requirements in HR needs, during this cycle of the strategic plan, OHSA needs to fill those vacancies and conduct those ancillary tasks which would enable it to fulfil its mandate and meet its commitments.

Activity area 3: Communicating the benefits of OHS

Desired situation:

  • OHSA’s visibility is increased, and its reputation consolidated as a professional organisation operating with integrity.
  • Duty-holders recognise their responsibility in achieving a safe environment for their workers and feel proud of a positive contribution to OHS. Employers and the constituted bodies appreciate the importance and priority of OHS preventative measures, as well as the business case for OHS, which will in turn increase the probability of employers managing health and safety risks and engaging more with workers.
  • Trade unions distance themselves from attempts to use OHS as a bargaining chip and understand fully the benefits of OHS. There is also a need for seriously taking on board their role in representing and supporting workers to work in healthy and safe ways while supporting businesses to innovate and raise standards of OHS within their industry, while actively participating in OHS processes, advancing OHS matters, and promoting them with their members.
  • To have established communication channels to workers, mainly through their representative organisations, to be able to build easily and efficiently OHS awareness, as well as communicate changes in legislation and new developments in OHS. Increasing awareness about their rights and obligations will in turn assist them in participating and influencing OHS systems, processes and practices at their workplace.
  • To have more stakeholders and influencers acknowledging OHSA, the benefits of OHS in all workplaces and of collaboration with OHSA.
  • The public becomes more aware of OHSA’s role and outcomes of its work (including the benefits of OHS).

Activity area 4: Taking appropriate action against existing and emerging risks

Desired situation

  • To have in place a system for the collection of comprehensive and accurate data on occupational accidents, injuries, ill-health, morbidity, and fatal accidents, with the full participation of medical practitioners, employers and other Government entities that have a role to play.
  • To have medical practitioners who are fully knowledgeable of their legal responsibilities, are aware of the association between ill-health and work conditions, and who are sensitised to the different health needs of different sectors of the worker population. One focus of the OHSA is to increase the level of injury and illhealth reporting. Whilst the employer, self-employed & employee may decide not to submit an injury benefit claim, many injuries will require clinical treatment. It is proposed that OHSA’s renews its efforts so that clinical staff who encounter cases of occupational injuries and or ill-health, inform OHSA. This may necessitate a legislative review, with the collaboration of the Health authorities, so that medical practitioners who become aware that a worker is suffering from an occupational disease, are legally required to notify OHSA or the employer of that worker accordingly.
  • To have accurate detailed information about the state of play with regards to ohs in Malta and its effect on the economy.
  • To ensure the full and equitable access to ohs preventive and protective services, which considers both individual and collective needs.
  • OHS Officers who are suitably competent to monitor, enforce and advise duty holders on traditional and emerging risks.
  • OHSA continues to participate in international fora on best practices to identify and address these risks, including on how to advise duty holders and social partners to include these risks in risk prevention programmes.
  • Accredited certification of all persons who tender their advice to employers and other duty holders in terms of the law.
  • Close collaboration and synergy with the Office of the Commissioner for Mental Health to address mental health at the place of work. OHSA also envisages a role for civil society and NGOs to tackle this difficult topic. OHSA will continue to work to raise awareness and propose practical solutions to all parties in this field.
  • Having more up-to-date information about carcinogen use at the workplace and occupations at risk. Greater synergy with the Ministry of Health in the implementation of the National Cancer Plan with reference to workplaces.

Activity area 5: Evaluating effectiveness of actions taken

Actions will be assessed against KPIs determined or adopted by the authority, whilst ensuring the efficiency of all services provided.

Main deliverables

  • The ability to generate user defined reports from the MIS relating to OHSA outputs, which shall be measured against pre-set targets.
  • Ensure that is conducted one peer review of OHSA’s operations to ensure alignment with SLIC’s Common Principles, which are considered as the benchmark against which Labour Inspectorate activities are measured.
  • Implement performance appraisal tools and monitor the quality and quantity of every employee’s output.

5 Actors and stakeholder

The strategic plan will include social partners, constituted bodies, and government entities.

The three main tripartite social dialogue institutions for OHS are the Employment Relations Board (ERB), the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development (MCESD) and the Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OHSA).

6 Resources and time frame

The Strategic Plan for Occupational Health and Safety 2022-2027 covers the period from 2022 to 2027. The Strategic Plan does not include inforation on resources for its implementation.

7 Evaluation

Actions will be assessed against Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) determined or adopted by the Authority, whilst ensuring the efficiency of all services provided.

Current KPIs in use by OHSA are a mix between ‘leading’ indicators, relating to OHSA actions and productivity, as well as ‘lagging’ indicators, that relats to the effect that OHSA actions are having in the workplace.

Ex ante indicators for the years 2022 to 2027

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) needs to be revisited so that it reflects performance levels to determine whether the strategic objectives defined here have been met.

The KPI framework is not intended to be fixed in stone, or to encompass all areas of management reporting. It is a strategic tool and must therefore adapt with the changing strategic focuses of the OHSA.

8 Relationhip to EU Startegic Framework

The objectives are following totally the EU-OSH Strategic Framework

  1. Strategic Plan for Occupational Health and Safety 2014-2020. Available at: [1]

Contributors

e.schmitzfelten
OSH: [[Property:OSHA|]], Political
NACE: [[Property:NACE|]]