The Justice and Peace Commission is proposing eight recommendations to authorities and stakeholders in Malta’s construction industry, aiming to enhance safety and fairness for all workers. The Commission urges prompt action to be taken on these recommendations for the well-being of both the workers and society. These recommendations are a result of scientific research conducted by the Commission on health and safety in the Maltese construction sector.

Initiated over a year ago in response to a growing number of serious accidents resulting in the death of 25 construction workers between 2019 and 2022, this project involved conducting over 40 interviews with workers, supervisors, employers, professionals, and organisational representatives in this sector.

Titled The ‘Ejja Ejja’ Culture, a key conclusion of this research is that it is unfair and misleading to blame workers, especially those at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid, for unsafe conditions and increased accident risks. They are not benefiting from the organisations and institutions meant to protect workers, and, unfortunately, are the ones paying the highest price.

While responsibility for accidents varies on a case‑by‑case basis, it is evident that the situation results from a culture best described as ‘ejja ejja’ (get on with it) which pervades the work in this sector.

The analysis, disclosed today at a press conference at the Archbishop’s Curia, was conducted from an Integral Human Development perspective. It highlights an unacceptable mismatch between theory and practice, with insufficient and sporadically enforced law enforcement and penalties failing to serve as effective deterrents. Despite the proliferation of rules, regulations, authorities, and duty‑holders, impunity prevails.

Daniel Darmanin, President of the Justice and Peace Commission, stated, “The Commission felt that an in-depth study on the local construction industry was necessary because, despite several policy updates and changes in regulations in the past years, especially following Miriam Pace’s death, things in this sector did not improve. On the contrary, statistics show an increase in accidents. Moreover, it seemed that the voice of the workers was the least heard in all of this.” 

In the documentary The Letter, Pope Francis recalled the historical metaphor of the Tower of Babel, where workers were ruthlessly punished for dropping baked bricks and the loss of a worker was deemed inconsequential. The Commission suggests that similarly, as we build more towers of human arrogance today, using the bricks of power and the economy, many people toil like slaves and, if they falter, their well‑being is often overlooked.

Mark Cachia, the author of the research report, noted, “The study shows that it is impossible and irresponsible to isolate health and safety issues from the wider socio‑economic, political and legal realities, such as the vertiginous pace at which the industry has been operating over the last few years, the lack of proper enforcement and the widespread exploitation of human rights faced by migrant workers. Even before the collapse of a building in Corradino in December 2022 which claimed the life of a young man, Jean Paul Sofia, and caused public outrage, the Commission strongly believed that these tragedies could no longer be ignored.”

Bishop Joseph Galea‑Curmi said, “The study, undertaken by the Justice and Peace Commission, a Church entity, addresses social sin and highlights the Church’s commitment to the Gospel values of justice, compassion, and the respect for the life and dignity of every human being. The hope is that this study serves as a valuable contribution of the Church in Malta for a society that is inspired by these values.”

The Commission’s recommendations are:

  1. Use tax and policy levers to reduce risks associated with unrealistic deadlines brought about by the created need to build more in the shortest time possible.
  2. Workers’ unions should be at the forefront in advocating for a rights-based approach while actively striving to widen their membership base to include foreign workers. 
  3. Provide cultural sensitivity and bias training to all frontline stakeholders.
  4. Strengthen the provision of health and safety courses and, where necessary, language training. 
  5. Conduct further research to study the effects of machismo culture on the health and well‑being of workers in the construction industry.
  6. Re‑evaluate work permit regulations and immigration laws disempowering migrant workers.
  7. Increase resources for OHSA and establish a one‑stop phone number to report all construction‑related complaints.
  8. Make insurance coverage a prerequisite for contractors seeking to be licensed.

The Commission emphasises that in the absence of an effective deterrent in place to punish those jeopardizing their workers’ lives, employers and developers who choose to comply with safety regulations—even if it involves working more slowly and incurring additional costs to ensure a safe and healthy workplace—find themselves at a competitive disadvantage in terms of pricing and profitability. Unfortunately, according to the Commission, this occurs whenever the competent authorities fail to ensure a level and fair playing field that guarantees the right to a safe and healthy work environment for all workers, irrespective of their identity or employer.

The Justice and Peace Commission concludes that for the country to genuinely transition to a construction sector that respects the rights of all workers and provides a safe and healthy working environment, it is essential to unpack the complex reality of interconnected factors. This approach is necessary to address the root causes of construction site tragedies.

The ‘Ejja Ejja’ Culture research is available at