Dying for the job: Turkey's workplace accidents rise 291 percent in one year

Published April 29th, 2015 - 02:49 GMT

Workplace accidents in Turkey skyrocketed between 2012 and 2013, increasing by 291 percent, according to a recent report from the Turkish Union of Engineers and Architects Chambers (TMMOB).

While 75,000 accidents took place in 2012, that number more than doubled to 191,000 in 2013. Moreover, the statistics are likely much higher in reality, the report indicated, as the figures refer only to insured, formally employed workers. In Turkey, high numbers of subcontracted and unregistered workers are employed in particularly dangerous sectors such as mining and construction.

The report also showed that the annual number of deaths resulting from worksite accidents has drastically increased over the past decade, as 543 workers died on the job in 2004 while the figure was 1,360 in 2013 and 1,886 in 2014. Last year was a particularly grim year for laborers, as three high-profile deadly accidents made headlines amid allegations of negligence and poor safety standards. An explosion in the Soma mine, located in Manisa province, in May of last year resulted in 301 deaths, the deadliest job site accident in the history of Turkey.

“The numerous changes that have been made to Labor Health and Safety Law No. 6331 are not substantial. Following the Soma, Torunlar and Ermenek disasters, these changes were implemented to mislead the public. Following these changes, deadly workplace accidents continued to increase,” read a critical passage of the report, referencing the two other major disasters that occurred last year.

Ten workers died after a faulty elevator plummeted more than 30 stories on the construction site of the Torun Center luxury towers, an İstanbul project overseen by the company Torunlar GYO. Eighteen laborers were trapped and eventually killed after a flood in a mine in the Central Anatolian town of Ermenek. Meanwhile, news of an accident resulting in a dead miner or construction worker is an almost daily occurrence in Turkey.

The TMMOB argued in its report that legal changes must be made to ensure the safety of all workplaces and workers, including domestic employees and inmates in prison work programs.

According to figures released by the Council for Workers' Health and Work Safety (İSİG) earlier this month, the number of workers who died due to job-related accidents hit 351 during the first three months of the year. A total of 139 of these deaths occurred during the month of March alone.

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