Further education needed on prevention of risks in buildings
“We need to enact the Fire Safety Act”. This was stated by Gordon Bondin, a health and safety consultant, in an interview with Voice of the Workers in the wake of the tragic incident that took the life of a man in a block of apartments in Marsascala.
He said that it was time that we had this regulation to preclude grave incidents such as fire in blocks of apartments and other types of residences. In the meantime, all builders should follow the Design Guidelines on Fire Safety for Buildings in Malta of 2004.
Gordon Bondin emphasised the importance of installing equipment in all buildings which can detect smoke and trigger the alarm allowing residents to evacuate the building and move away from the danger. He explained that prior to installing the equipment a risk assessment should be carried out to establish the type of extinguisher to be put in place.
“Should a person be at work or away and something happen in the home action would be taken automatically”, said Gordon Bondin.
We spend enough money on other things, he said, so why should we not spend some money on guaranteeing health and safety at our homes? “We should invest in a fire extinguisher, fire blanket, first aid box, fire alarm or smoke detector as these items are essential and useful in every home”, Gordon Bondin added.
The health and safety consultant maintained that this equipment should not be considered as an expense but an investment in case of accident.
Voice of the Workers asked whether the Maltese are aware of the dangers that surround them. He said that in the last few years there has been some progress made in terms of personal security for workers, safety at the workplace, particularly on building sites, and prevention measures. These days workers are taking better care of themselves, they are abiding by regulation and, if they are not wearing protective gear, are not being allowed to work in high risk sites.
Gordon Bondin referred to the good work that is being done by the Health and Safety Authority including education and enforcement. Many companies take the consultants’ advice to carry out an assessment of their workplace and follow the training programmes offered to employers and their employees.
Gordon Bondin also has good things to say about the Civil Protection Department whose employees are professionally trained and which provides training sessions to companies and individuals on public health and safety as well and personal and domestic health and safety.
“If you asked me if I were happy with the situation, I would reply that we have not yet done enough … we need to continue to educate and explain the need to have a secure system at the workplace to employers”, said Gordon Bondin. He explained that for the system to work it has to be built on risk assessment based on education and training. Gordon Bondin said that the system needs to be self sustaining.
Above all, Gordon Bondin continued to say, the importance of prevention needs to be emphasised. “You need to want to do something, followed by a plan of training and inspections to get results”. Said the health and safety consultant, adding, “with employers’ and employees’ participation and commitment, incidents can be avoided”.