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180 to get workplace health and safety training

Training seminars will be organised for union representatives and shop stewards

Parliamentary Secretary Aaron Farrugia addressing yesterday’s press conference. Photo: Reuben Piscopo/DOI

Parliamentary Secretary Aaron Farrugia addressing yesterday’s press conference. Photo: Reuben Piscopo/DOI

Some 180 people will receive training in workplace health and safety as part of a €165,000 project that will also include a far-reaching awareness campaign and research leading to policy recommendations.

The project was announced on Monday by the General Workers’ Union and UĦM – Voice of the Workers with parliamentary secretary for EU funds and social dialogue Aaron Farrugia.

As part of the project, training seminars will be organised for union representatives and shop stewards, while advertising spots will run on TV and radio, print and social media.

Research carried out by the unions into the state of health and safety legislation and its implementation will lead to recommendations for improvements at the end of the project.

Addressing a press conference, GWU general secretary Josef Bugeja said that while the responsibility for health and safety should be borne by employers, education and awareness of good practices could go a long way to avoiding accidents and saving lives in the workplace.

UĦM president Jesmond Bon-ello added that it was necessary to send a clear message in support of workers, who had to bear the consequences of injuries, not only on the workplace but at home. Part of the project, he said, would be to look into the adequacy of existing legislation and whether it was being appropriately enforced.

Asked about concerns over the effectiveness of enforcement measures following several widely reported incidents this year, Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OHSA) senior manager Silvio Farrugia said he was convinced the authority was doing enough.

Dr Farrugia noted that enforcement could only take place within the confines of the law, describing the maximum penalties for some offences as a “joke”.

Dr Farrugia noted that health and safety also affected productivity, especially in an ageing workforce, and increasing standards would prevent early retirements, adding that more public knowledge would ensure the strong work force needed for a strong economy.

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