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OHSA to get more workers and new laws, planning minister pledges

The government will be strengthening the health and safety watchdog’s power through new legislation and increased workforce, Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi said on Monday.

The outgoing CEO of authority said he felt the watchdog was always kept small and not given enough resources because politicians feared too much enforcement would stifle the economy and irk businesses people.

In April, Zrinzo Azzopardi launched a white paper that will abolish the present OHSA Act and replace it with a brand new law to allow the authority to work in such a way that occupational health and safety standards and procedures are adhered to.

Video: Matthew Mirabelli

Fielding questions from the media following the opening of new offices for the Building and Construction Authority, Zrinzo Azzopardi said the government wanted to increase the penalties linked to breaches of workplace safety regulations.

The minister said he had always supported the OHSA and the government wanted to beef up its enforcement powers. 

“I can only say that I always gave the OHSA my full support, so much so that [the government] understood the OHSA's needs, including a new collective agreement,” Zrinzo Azzopardi said when asked about alleged political interference. 

He said the new collective agreement not only supported workers who were already employed by the authority but also sought to make the OHSA more attractive to prospective employees. 

“Besides simply increasing the workforce, we need increased awareness campaigns to strengthen a health and safety culture in the country,” he said.