Nearly two-thirds of magisterial inquiries into construction site deaths and major injuries in the last five years remain open, according to court figures. 

Since 2017, magistrates have been asked to investigate major incidents at construction sites involving serious injuries or deaths 59 times. Of these, 25 (40%) have been concluded but 34 (60%) remain pending.

Although they are not legally precluded from pressing charges until magisterial inquiries are concluded,  the police and prosecutors generally await the outcome of these court inquiries before opening a court case against a liable party.

This means that justice can be left waiting months, even years, until magistrates conclude their inquiry. 

The figures on magisterial probes into construction sites were tabled in parliament by Justice Minister Jonathan Attard on Tuesday in response to a question by newly-elected opposition MP Albert Buttigieg.

So far this year, 12 people have died at the workplace, the bulk of the deaths occurring on construction sites.

In September alone there were two deaths on construction sites – one in Munxar and the other in Qormi.

Nine people died while at work last year, compared to seven in 2020.

The minister did not provide a breakdown of how many people had been charged in court over construction site deaths or serious injuries, saying this kind of data is not collected and gathering the information would be too much work for the authorities. 

Meanwhile, Planning Minister Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi told the House that since the inception of the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) no third parties or residents had been seriously injured or had died at construction sites. 

The BCA was set up last year on the recommendation of an expert report into excavation and construction practices.

The report was commissioned after Miriam Pace died when her home collapsed due to neighbouring excavation works in March 2020. 

Replying to a question also posed by Buttigieg, Zrinzo Azzopardi said the BCA had assisted the police in several investigations into construction site incidents.

It also held deposits from contractors that violated building and excavation rules.

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