KANBrief 3/10

Occupational health & safety and standardization in Malta

With its 413,000 inhabitants, Malta is the smallest Member State of the European Union (EU). Owing to the small size of the country, the different authorities involved in OSH matters maintain particularly close links and collaborate intensively..

The key player in occupational health and safety is the Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OHSA) established in 2000. It is dutybound to see that OH&S legislation is complied with in all sectors – from construction to the machinery sector, chemical and biological hazards and radiation protection. To this end, 2,022 workplace visits were carried out last year (Activity Report 2009). The Authority also keeps track of the regular on-site checks required for certain types of machinery. The 4,021 reports received in 2009 were vetted and collected in a database.

Furthermore, OHSA investigates occupational accidents, organizes information campaigns, provides initial and further training in occupational safety and health and contributes to the development of national legislation.

At European level, OHSA is a member of the Committee of Senior Labour Inspectors (SLIC), participating actively in all meetings, a number of Working Groups and the exchange of labour inspectors initiative. The Authority takes an active part in the initiatives launched by the European Agency for Safety and Health at the Workplace and maintains relationships with numerous organisations abroad.

The Malta Standards Authority (MSA), which was established in 2000, has a legal personality distinct from that of government. One of its functionally independent Directorates is the Standardization Directorate (STD), responsible for the development and adoption of standards. In addition to the standards that originated at international or European level, the MSA issued three purely national Maltese Standards in 2009.

MSA is an active member of CEN, CENELEC, ETSI, ISO, IEC and the WELMEC, EURAMET and OIML metrology organisations. MSA was elected to the General Council of ISO for the second time for the period of 2010-2011, and for a second term on the CENELEC Administrative Board. During one of the meetings of the European Commission’s Senior Officials Group on Standardization (SOGS) in 2009, Malta was nominated to be one of the five Member States representing the National Authorities College on the European Co-operation for Accreditation Advisory Board (EAAB).

With its 36 members of staff, MSA assumes a number of tasks which in other countries typically fall within the remit of ministries. MSA’s Metrology Directorate (NMS), for example, is in charge of legal metrology and offers calibration services to other laboratories in Malta.

The Regulatory Affairs Directorate (RAD) is responsible for the implementation of European legislation. It represents Malta at meetings of the European Commission and technical harmonisation Council Working Party on issues dealing with Free Movement of Goods principles, CE marking and more specific topics such as motor vehicles, food labelling, chemicals, cosmetics, pesticides, etc.

The Market Surveillance Directorate (MSD) is concerned with product safety (Motor Vehicles, Electrical Risk and Electrical Equipment, Electromagnetic compatibility, Radio Equipment and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment, Energy Efficiency Requirements, Mechanical Devices, PPE, Construction Products, Recreational Sea Craft, Medical Devices, Pressure Vessels, Toys, Gas Appliances, Noise from Vehicles and Machinery, Pyrotechnic Articles) and the enforcement of the applicable legislation. In 2009, it carried out 518 inspections in retail outlets, checking 2,227 products for their compliance with the applicable European directives/ standards. 14 unsafe products were found in these inspections and notified on the EU rapid alert system for dangerous consumer products (RAPEX).

A small country with short communication channels

The close collaboration between MSA and OHSA is bearing fruit in different aspects of occupational health and safety in Malta. For instance, the two institutions support each other by confidentially sharing information gathered during inspections. MSA and OHSA have also intermittently cooperated in organizing joint initiatives aimed at raising awareness for OH&S in specific industrial sectors or among SMEs. These synergies will continue to be strengthened in future.

Dr. Mark Gauci CEO-OHSA

Ing. Anthony Camilleri CEO-MSA