Yesterday’s news about a migrant worker who was injured at a construction site and unceremoniously dumped on a road, has sparked outrage that a nation so famously known for its generosity, has treated one of its own residents in such a horrendous and cruel way. Yet an incident of this type was bound to happen sooner or later, given the way the construction industry has been operating for the past few years.
In a simple short drive, one can pass half a dozen construction sites, and yet it is quite uncommon to see safety standards being put into practice. We’ve all seen a Facebook post once in a while showing a worker scaling down a seven-storey building clinging to only just a rope, and whilst the commentators joke around that this is a ‘made in Malta’ type of situation, they are also able to recognise the imminent danger present. However, these types of photos keep appearing, which only shows the continuous disregard and lack of enforcement of the health and safety standards of the construction industry.
The abysmal enforcement of these standards is evidenced by statistics which indicate that the construction industry is the one with the most non-fatal and fatal accidents. Over a 10-year period, 60% of all fatal workplace deaths took place in the construction industry. While a certain number of deaths and injuries are to be expected due to the nature of this work, every effort should be undertaken to reduce the figures.
It has been speculated that this migrant was dumped on the road so that the contractor could avoid a hefty fine for employing this worker without registering him. It is not a secret that foreign workers and migrants make up a disproportionate amount of the construction workers and so one can presume that hundreds of workers are in the same predicament. This practice ensures that workers’ rights are diminished as the workers find it difficult to speak up for themselves, with the fear of having their daily bread taken away.
One can only hope that after such a tragic accident, which has been condemned by both political parties, action is taken so that incidents like these will never be repeated.