“The construction industry is not regulated and we have been campaigning intensely for this to happen for the past three years,” President of the Chamber of Architects and Civil Engineers Andre Pizzuto told The Malta Independent on Sunday. He added that the industry does not have the proper legislative and administrative tools to manage ongoing work on construction sites.
He said that in the chamber’s Extraordinary General Meeting held on Thursday 26 May, the profession had insisted with officials of the ministry for public works and planning that contractors should be regulated and that the regulations on their licensing should be published by October.
“The licensing of contractors is a critical step in the renewal of the construction industry, and is essential for our country to meet the necessary qualitative and environmental standards demanded by the public, responsible stakeholders, European Directives, and the market.”
He added that the Chamber has been campaigning for such licences to be introduced since 2007 and had managed to secure a letter of commitment signed in 2019 by back then Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects Ian Borg.
“Over three years have elapsed since the Letter of Commitment. The chamber has doggedly persisted about the need to license contractors and shall continue to do so until a proper licensing regime is in place,” it had said in a press release.
Construction industry deaths
A total of eight deaths took place on construction sites in 2022, according to figures obtained from the Occupational Health and Safety Authority.
The first for the year happened on the afternoon of 26 January, when a 40-year-old man from Gharghur, Adrian Muscat had died on a construction site at the Ta Qali national park.
It is understood that the father of four, together with another 35-year-old man, were using machinery which toppled over, and one of them fell one storey into a narrow shaft, the police had said.
The second construction site fatality took place three months later at 8.30am on 23 April, where a construction worker fell to his death in Gallina Street, San Gwann.
The worker, a Syrian aged 25 who was resident in Birkirkara, fell two storeys while working.
The third construction site fatality happened on 27 of May, when 49-year old Hayrettin Kok from Sliema died after falling around three storeys while working at a construction site in Ta’ Xbiex.
From preliminary investigations it was suggested that the Turkish man fell into a shaft while carrying out works.
On 22 July a Georgian man died after falling three storeys inside a construction site in Qormi.
Police had said that the accident happened in Triq tal-Hanaq, limits of Qormi.
The 52-year-old, who resided in St Paul’s Bay was certified dead a short while after being taken to Mater Dei Hospital by ambulance.
Another fatality happened on 12 of September after Police were informed that their assistance was needed inside a construction site on Sqaq iż-Żiemel, limits of Handaq in Qormi.
A 57-year-old man from Birkirkara, who fell from a height of around five storeys while working on the site, was certified as dead on site.
Just a mere two days later, 29-year old Luca Curmi from Munxar died after falling four storeys at a site he was working at in Gozo.
The worker had been working on a site in Triq Damasku in Munxar; he was certified dead at the scene by a medical team.
On 8 November a 43-year-old worker died in hospital four days after he fell at a construction site in Msida.
The Turkish national, who lived in Malta, fell a height of more than one storey whilst working on a site in Triq Victor Denaro on 4 November.
The last accident happened on 3 December after part of a construction site in Corradino Industrial Estate collapsed, killing Jean Paul Sofia, aged just 20.
Another five workers were injured when the building under construction collapsed, whilst Sofia was found dead after a 17-hour search.
It was reported that the building collapsed just after a few minutes that Sofia went inside.
Almost two thirds of magisterial inquiries into construction site deaths and major injuries in the last five years are still open.
The licensing of contractors
Pizzuto told this newsroom that he was informed that the licensing process for contractors together with accompanying regulations should be out “in the first few days of January”. He is yet to see the final text however, and will be commenting further once the chamber receives the final text.
He added that Malta is one of the few European countries where contractors and labourers are not licensed. “The ultimate aim must be that of enhancing quality and health and safety through licensing and upskilling of contractors,” he said, as currently as the law stands anyone can work as a contractor.
“We need a significant improvement in the (construction) standards, not only in the finished product, but also during the construction phase,” he said.
While periti (architects) are not professionally or legally responsible for the health and safety of workers on construction sites, the Chamber of Architects and Civil Engineers said that a total of 13 architects have had their warrant suspended after they were found guilty of shortcomings on their behalf in 2022.
He added that these suspensions have not yet been implemented pending appeal proceedings in the Court of Appeal.