Currently, the term “licensed mason” is defined in the police code as ‘…any individual who constructs, either wholly or partially, any stone or brick building that includes mortar in its construction….’
However, the proposed definition in the bill expands on this, stating that a “licensed mason” refers to any person who ‘….constructs, either wholly or partially, any building made of concrete, stone, brick, or steel….’
An important change is the bill now includes buildings constructed with steel within the purview of masons. This is indeed a significant milestone because we now have clarity on who is authorized to construct steel structures in Malta. Perhaps, adding “steel construction” as a designated competency in Schedule II of the bill, alongside the existing requirements such as proficiency in health and safety matters, concrete technology, and interpreting documentation would constitute a sensible step.
In other respects, the bill is equally commendable for its promotion of continuous professional development and the updating of competency standards to align with contemporary practices.
However, the most significant aspect of this bill is Regulation 4(1)(d) which clearly stipulates that a licensed mason must be physically present on the construction site throughout the duration of the building works when assigned to oversee the construction, and they are responsible for the work executed by individuals lacking a license but engaged by the licensed mason. This provision signifies a significant and pivotal progress, notably absent from any prior local legislation, including the recently abolished Legal Notice 69 of 1968.
Two other important inclusions in the final law should be a provision stipulating that the licensed mason is responsible for both the safety and structural integrity of temporary works. Additionally, the licensed mason should be held liable if he fails to adhere to the instructions given by the perit and must refrain from continuing work if there are doubts or pending instructions. Such measures would help prevent disputes and assign clear responsibility.
In summary, there is unquestionably no denying the significance of this crucial bill, though it is unfortunate that it has not garnered broad public awareness.