The number of people killed after a workplace-related accident is on a downward trend, the Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OHSA) head believes, despite an increase of those working in potentially risky jobs.

Three workplace fatalities have been registered until September this year, according to data tabled in Parliament.

Last year, four deaths were registered, compared to just one fatality in 2017. Data on the number of injuries on the job this year was not provided.

In 2018, the authority registered 1,400 injuries for every 100,000 employee.

Asked for a reaction to the latest data on fatal accidents, authority CEO Mark Gauci said it was “important to register” that the number had declined when compared to 15 years ago.

Number down compared to 15 years ago

“One should note that there were in fact 12 accidents during each of 2003 and 2004,” Dr Gauci said. 

The “downward trend” has been evident despite what he described as the “huge increase in construction activities”, Dr Gauci said.

“[This] now accounts for a higher proportion of economic activity than before, meaning that more workers are being employed in a high-risk environment.”

Such workers were considered as high-risk as they are “frequently assigned tasks that are beyond workers’ abilities and competences”.

They are often also not aware of their rights’ responsibilities, so it is often difficult for them to approach the state agencies “empowered to help them”.

So far this year, the authority has issued 269 fines, compared to a total of 591 in 2018. While the fines are computed over a period of one year, any possible decreases result from a “shift in OHSA policy to resort”.

This included moving to more judicial action instead of issuing an administrative fine.

Repeat offenders are no longer being served with an administrative fine, but their case is being referred for court judgment, where applicable penalties are higher than those which can be applied by OHSA, he said.