In light of the recent incident in Paceville, where over 70 people were injured – some even critically – in a stampede whilst evacuating a nightclub, ELSA Malta would like to express its concern on several shortcomings in the health and safety legislation and particularly their enforcement, which have come to light following this unfortunate yet foreseeable accident.
A primary concern is the issue relating to how the nightclub security did not properly inspect those entering the club whilst failed to verify whether those entering were above the age limit as prescribed by law. Although nightclub security are regulated by our law, this episode highlights the need for more enforcement to ensure that nightclub security are adhering to their duties and that such negligence is avoided in the future. It is also recommended that more plainclothes police inspections are held.
Emergency-exit planning is another issue worth pointing out, and the competent authority should ensure that these establishments are made in compliance with the Catering Establishments Regulations to ensure that in the case of emergency, those inside the establishment could safely evacuate to an open space or public street. The competent authority must also secure that these remain so throughout their use, hence regular inspections are to be made. Another issue which arose from this incident is the lack of knowledge and training in tackling such situations. The mere blocking of the staircase shows that there was no direction. It is the duty of nightclub security to ensure the safety of those entering and making use of the establishment, however this instance has shown that there is a great need of more adequate education and training.
Speaking generally, the above-mentioned are merely just a few instances which show the inadequacy of health and safety regulations implementation in our system. With the evident lack of enforcement of health and safety regulations, other tragedies are anticipated to occur, unless the situation is not rectified. ELSA Malta calls for more enforcement of the existing regulations, while changing and creating more legislation, such as by imposing harsher penalties if those already in existence are not acting enough as deterrents. Moreover, ELSA Malta encourages an extensive consultation process, in which youths are at the forefront of the debate, in order to discuss modern ways of tackling illegality so as to ultimately resolve the present situation and build a safer environment for our youths.