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22/11/2012

Malta leads the way in promoting good occupational safety and health

Tim Tregenza

Malta may be the smallest Member State in the EU by both area and population size, but it is one of the leaders in the proactive protection of its workers. On 14/15 November, The Occupational Safety and Health Authority of Malta (OHSA) hosted a focal point network meeting of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work.

The meeting of the national focal points representating the Member States, pre-accession and candidate countries, EEA-EFTA and EFTA countries was held at Malta Enterprise in Pietà, covering a wide range of occupational safety and health issues and how EU-OSHA and its focal point networks could reduce the harm to workers by raising awareness of hazards and risks and understanding the different means of prevention.

On the first day, the keynote speaker was Professor Swen Malte John (Osnabrueck University) who powerfully described the harm and disfigurement dermatitis causes to employees, forcing the worker out of their job. Having illustrated the cost to the worker, enterprise, and State of this loss, he then went on to descibe simple, structured approaches to prevent harm to the benefit of all.

The second day featured a presentation from Gavin Lonergan (HSA, Ireland) on their powerful, graphic campaign to reduce the number of accidents in the agriculture sector. This prompted an interesting discussion on the benefits and drawbacks of showing the effects of such accidents.

The highlight of the meeting however was when the focal points met the Maltese Minister for Health, the Elderly and Community Care, Dr Joe Cassar, who also has responsibility for occupational safety and health. This meeting not only underlined the commitment to safety and health at work in Malta but also showed Malta's strong engagement in occupational safety and health in Europe.