The fines which may be imposed for infringement of safety regulations on building sites are so low that they may be encouraging some people to forego the implementation of adequate measures and ‘risk’ a relatively minimal fine if found out, the National Audit Office said today.

It made its comment after carrying out a performance assessment of the Occupational Health and Safety Authority in the building industry.

"The level of permissible financial penalties (both in the form of administrative fines as well as the minimum fines should a case be taken to the courts) are completely incommensurate to the nature of some of the infringements they are intended to deter," the audit office said.

It said that workers engaged in the construction industry are the most at risk of occupational accidents when compared to workers in other industrial sectors.

The Audit Office said that while the education role of the health and safety authority was praiseworthy, the Authority needed to tighten and step-up its regulatory function through a change in its operational philosophy, particularly by adopting a more proactive and meticulous monitoring system together with stronger enforcement.

"This, the National Audit Office opines, is key to addressing a local cultural disregard to the Occupational Safety Authority." 

"This Office 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, there is no rigid and comprehensive system by which the competence of all active PSs is assessed."


The Audit Office said that external factors, such as innate local cultural disregard to safety considerations, legal constraints and other compounding factors, such as the considerable presence of irregular workers within this industry, created a regulatory conundrum which could not be easily overcome.

The significant shortage in the inspectorate staff (compared to international standards) added unwarranted pressure on the Authority’s operations and created gaps in its potential coverage. 

The the report here link.

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