OHSA not carrying out exhaustive inspections on construction sites

April 27, 2016

lgo_ohsaThe National Audit Office said it has reservations on the Authority’s practice of not carrying out exhaustive inspection visits on construction sites. In a report presented to Parliament tonight, the NAO said that workers engaged in the local construction industry are the most at risk of suffering occupational accidents when compared to others working in other industrial sectors

The NAO said it has reservations on the Authority’s practice of not carrying out exhaustive inspection visits on construction sites. This concern is further compounded by the fact that, although OHSA ascertains that the responsibility of a Project Supervisor (PS) is duly assigned (whose role is to make sure that OHS considerations are observed during all stages of a construction project), there is no rigid and comprehensive system by which the competence of all active PSs is assessed.

NAO further opines that the level of permissible financial penalties both in the form of administrative fines as well as the minimum imposable fines should a case be taken to the Courts of Justice are completely incommensurate to the nature of some of the infringements they are intended to deter. This element of disproportionality is made more evident when comparing these fines to the significantly higher costs attributed to the implementation of adequate OHS measures. As a consequence, this Office concludes that this significant difference between the enforceable fines and OHS related costs, may be incentivising duty holders to forego the implementation of adequate OHS measures and ‘risking’ a relatively minimal fine if detected by OHSA’s inspectorate staff.

NAO however also acknowledges that, external factors, such as innate local cultural disregard to OHS considerations, legal constraints and other compounding factors such as the considerable presence of irregular workers within this industry, create a regulatory conundrum which is not easily overcome. The significant shortage in the quantity of inspectorate staff compared to international standards at OHSA’s disposal, further adds unwarranted pressure on the Authority’s operations and creates gaps in the latter’s potential coverage.