Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 July, 2023 at 3:03 pm by Andre Camilleri
By 1 January 2025, the entire construction industry must have a licence for contractors to continue operating at construction sites. The Legal Notice for the licensing of contractors, which came into effect on Tuesday, has detailed the criteria contractors need to meet to be granted a licence for excavation, demolition and construction.
The Legal Notice that will introduce the licensing of contractors regime that will regulate the demolition, excavation and construction sectors will come into effect on Tuesday, enabling all contractors working in these sectors to apply for a licence by no later than 31 October 2023.
Contractors who apply for a licence within this period will be able to continue operating whilst their application is being evaluated by the Licensing Committee, the Ministry for Public Works and Planning said.
Applications will open on Monday, 24 July, and must be submitted through the Building and Construction Authority’s website www.bca.org.mt
Those who fail to apply by the end of October of this year will not be able to carry out demolition, excavation or construction works.
Contractors who apply for a licence from 1 November of this year will have to wait for the Licensing Committee to issue a provisional clearance for their application to be able to operate until their proper licence is issued.
The committee is also obliged to issue the provisional clearance within a 60-day period from the day of application.
Whilst the evaluation of the application is being carried out, each contractor will be responsible for observing all obligations in accordance with the law, one of which is to ensure that all works are conforming with the practices, guidelines and regulations covering the activities for which the licence is being requested.
Contractors must also observe every direction issued by the architect or any person responsible by law, as well as each condition, method statement and requirement tied with building and construction that are imposed by any regulatory entity.
Contractors who apply for a licence will be required to ensure that any work they do is covered by a valid insurance policy.
This will cover any loss or damage that any person may suffer as a result of any act or omission on the part of the licensed contractor or employees working under his direction during the time works are taking place, as well as for damages at the place of work, including damage any employees may suffer.
The Building and Construction Authority may consider that any contravention committed by the contractor whose application is still being evaluated by the committee may lead to the rejection of the application, and the applicant will not be able to continue working.
Contractors who have obtained the licence and commit an offence may have their licence suspended or withdrawn.
Contractors are also subject to a schedule of penalties, if they are found working without a licence or with a suspended licence, or if they are in violation of the licence conditions.
The penalties vary from a prison sentence not exceeding six months, to administrative penalties which can reach €50,000, and further fines up to a maximum of €5,000 per day.
In terms of the revocation or the suspension of a licence, the contractor may appeal the decisions of the BCA before a Tribunal which will be set up in accordance with the Act.
The legal notice had been given the greenlight by the EU Commission to the Maltese government following a rigorous proportionality test according to the EU Directive that demands this test when legislation impacts the performance of any profession.
By 1 January 2025, the entire sector must have a licence. The three licences are separate, which includes the licensing of demolition contractors, the licensing of excavation and piling contractors and the licensing of construction contractors.
Interim temporary measures will be in place with regards to applications submitted till 31 May 2024 in the form of a provisional clearance will be provided so that prospective licensed contractors will be allowed to meet the minimum criteria thresholds to be eligible for the licence, but will still be able to operate.
The legal notice stipulates that licences issued shall remain valid for two years from the date of issue of a Licence Certificate and shall be subject to renewal every two years after such date.
Should the Committee decide that the applicant lacks sufficient professional competency, the contractor shall be requested to attend courses to keep up to date on the latest advances in the sector.
The criteria stipulated in the legal notice which must be fulfilled to obtain a licence for demolition, excavation and piling, and construction are as follows:
For the Licensing of Demolition Contractors, the applicant is required to show competence in demolition works, dismantling of structural and non-structural elements, construction waste separation and separate storage, correct loading on trucks, shoring techniques, have an adequate knowledge of basic requirements stipulated in the legal notice, and in the Construction Management Site Regulations.
The applicant must also have adequate knowledge of the Occupational Health and Safety Authority Act and its regulations.
If the applicant is a person, rather than a company, who is applying as a Demolition Contractor, they must be in possession, or show evidence of:
• A Level 4 certification as a Demolition Plant Supervisor issued in accordance with the National Occupational Standards and shall have at least three years’ experience in demolition works, or
• A minimum of three years’ experience in demolition works supported by references of at least two completed projects, or
• A mason’s licence with at least three years’ experience in masonry work
The applicant must have a list of all certified equipment to be utilised and has the capacity to ensure that all demolition works on a site are duly supervised by a Level 4 certified Demolition Plant Supervisor in terms of the National Occupational Standards, or other qualifications or experience the Committee deems equivalent.
The same criteria apply to an entity, in addition to having to employ at least one full time employee who holds a Level 4 certification as a Demolition Plant Supervisor.
As from 1 January 2025, the licensed contractor must also ensure that all workers engaged, entrusted or employed with the licensed contractor to execute demolition works, also hold a Level 4 certification as a Demolition Plant Supervisor, or a suitable alternative.
Applicants applying for the Licensing of Excavation and Piling Contractors are required to show competence in excavation works, setting up and dismantling of structural and non-structural supports, correct loading on trucks, shoring techniques, dumping of construction waste at authorised waste management facilities, as well as adequate knowledge in the Construction Management Site Regulations, and of the OHSA Act and its regulations.
If the applicant intends to include piling works, they shall be required to show competence in the shifting of piling equipment, boring or boring of piles, casting of piles, and pile cap construction.
The following requirements are to be satisfied when applying for a licence of an Excavations Contractor:
• Applicant must be in possession or show evidence of a Level 4 certification as an Excavation Plant Supervisor, and shall have at least three years’ experience, or
• A minimum of three years’ experience in excavation and piling works, with references of at least two projects involving the activity.
• A list of all certified equipment to be used
• Has the capacity to ensure all excavation works on a site are supervised by a Level 4 certified Excavation Plant Supervisor, or an equivalent alternative.
The same criteria apply to an entity, in addition to having to employ at least one full time employee who holds a Level 4 certification as an Excavation Plant Supervisor. The licensed contractor must ensure after 1 January 2025 that all workers hold a Level 4 certification or equivalent.
For the Licensing of Construction, the applicant must show competence in masonry and brick wall construction, design and construction of form work, reinforcement and concreting works and site management.
Additionally, the applicant must show competence of overseeing site preparation before commencement of any works, including hoarding, existing and proposed temporary infrastructural requirements.
They must also have adequate knowledge of the requirements in the Act, as well as the OHSA Act and its regulations.
The applicant for the Licensing of Construction must have a mason’s license and at least three years’ experience in construction work, a list of all certified equipment to be used, and the capacity to ensure that all construction works on a site are supervised by a licensed mason or by a person in possession of an equivalent National Occupational Standards Certification in masonry works or a suitable alternative.
An entity, in addition to the aforementioned criteria, must also have a minimum of three years’ experience in construction management supported by references of at least two building projects. They must also employ at least one full-time employee who is a licensed mason and in possession of certification in masonry works.
The entity must also be at least a Level 3 certified block layer in terms of the National Occupational Standards.
Planning Minister Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi and the Head of Secretariat for the Ministry of Public Works and Planning Paul Vella gave a brief of the legal notice to media on Tuesday.
Zrinzo Azzopardi said that this legal notice is another step, which still needs to be followed with other initiatives.
He said that the feedback of the extensive public consultation launched for the legal notice was wide-ranging, and that government must dialogue more with the people involved in the sector, who, he said, understand the reforms that need to be done in the sector.
Zrinzo Azzopardi said that more training is needed, and that this legislation is not the end, but a means to an end, describing the ordeal as a learning experience.
He also said that the number of applications expected for licensing will be on the thousand.
“Up until today, the only licence we have is the mason’s licence, which was enacted in 1880, and was slightly changed over the years. We are introducing for the first time a licence for excavation and demolition,” Zrinzo Azzopardi said.
He emphasized that the industry must realise that the mindset of how things are currently working needs to be changed. Zrinzo Azzopardi also said that for one to carry out works, they cannot do so with just a permit from the Planning Authority, but the BCA must also greenlight the method statement.