New report finds increasing rate of deaths following wall collapses on construction sites

19 June 2023

A new report has found that the number of wall collapses and the frequency of ensuing deaths increased from 2016 onwards, along with the exponential increase in approved development permits. The report, by The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation for the Public Interest Litigation Network (PILN), shows that construction fatality victims are also victims of the slow pace of Malta’s justice system and of the questionable action or lack of action against those responsible for their deaths.

The following are the report’s key findings.

  • Planning permit approvals have increased rapidly since 2016. By 2017, the number of approved permits had more than doubled when compared to the 2010-2015 period.
  • Between 2015 and 2022, there were at least 22 reported incidents of wall collapses with fatalities reported in 18% of cases. The highest number of collapses was recorded in 2019, when at least eight occurred.
  • Between 2010 and 2022, at least 49 workers were killed while working on construction sites. The frequency of deaths increased throughout the period.
  • Between January and April 2023, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) issued 250 penalties for construction site breaches - two-thirds were related to lack of proper documentation and BCA approval.
  • Of the 49 construction worker fatality cases, 34 date back to 2012 and remain open. Only 15 cases were closed - either because court decisions were taken (five cases) or because nobody could be prosecuted (No Action Can be Taken - ten cases). The gap in ongoing cases continues to increase, causing the number of unresolved cases to accumulate.
  • The average fine handed out by the Criminal Court for a construction worker fatality from the years 2010-2022 was €7,030.
  • Over the past 23 years, no warrants of periti have been suspended or revoked in relation to construction deaths.

The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, through the PILN project, began research work related to construction site fatalities in 2022, when there was a clear trend of lack of accountability linked to construction fatalities, which was confirmed by the report’s findings. Data for this report was collected through media sources, police press releases, freedom of information requests, documents tabled in parliament and parliamentary questions, publicly available government reports, and relevant legislation. Information was also sought from the communications desks of different public entities.

The full report, “Victims of Malta’s Construction Boom - the fatal wait for accoutability”, is available on the PILN website.