Introduction: Has Homer Simpson Moved to Turkey?
Doh! Over the last seven (7) years Turkish companies have not made much progress in decreasing workplace injuries. According to official statistics, which are publicly available at the Turkish Statistical Institute1, the number of the employees having an occupational accident stayed steady between 2007 and 2013 although the number of the employee increased during the same years. Therefore, the number of reported injuries for the respective period seemed to coming down due the fact that the number of the registered employees increased during such period. However, unofficial statistics may actually indicate a higher rate because of unregistered employees. Furthermore, in 2013, 17 percent of employees were reported to be at risk of an accident2. In response, the Turkish government has responded to help fix the issue by updating legislation, and thus spawned a new field of trained work place professionals.
Background on the Laws Regarding of Occupational Health and Safety
In the past, occupational health and safety was regulated separately under a chapter of Turkish Labor Law3 ("Labor Law"). However, to prevent occupational health incidents, safety gaps and occupational accidents, there was a necessity to regulate the respective issue with a separate piece of legislation. Thus, the current Occupational Health and Safety Law was enacted on June 30, 20134 ("Health and Safety Law").
The Health and Safety Law will be applicable to all work places, with no distinction between public and private ones. The people under the scope of this law are employers, employees, employers' representatives, apprentices and interns.
Who is the Authorized Institution?
The Ministry of Labor and Social Security as well as The Work and Labor Institution are authorized to enforce the Health and Safety Law.
What Are the Obligations of the Employers?
Under the Health and Safety Law, employers have certain obligations such as preventing risks, taking measures in order to prevent the employees to enter into the places having life-threatening and particular danger, providing the required tools and equipment, assessing risks regarding the lost, injury or other hazardous results which may arise from the danger, educating the employees, etc.
Is There Any Support from the Ministry?
It is possible to receive support from the Ministry, for example, if the work place is considered very risky (çok tehlikeli) or risky (tehlikeli). Also, support is provided if there are fewer than ten (10) employees in a work place. Pursuant to Article 5 of the Regulation on the Support of the Occupational Health and Safety Services5, employers that have less than ten employees will be entitled to receive a payment amount determined in accordance with the risk level of the workplace, the number of employees that are reported to the Social Security Institution and the number of the working days of the reported employees. Also, if the workplace is considered as risky or very risky then the amount to be paid to the workplace is determined according to a specific percentage of the income that is subject to social premiums.
Work Place Doctors and Occupational Safety Officers
Pursuant to Article 3 of the Health and Safety Law, certain professions such as engineers, architects and technical personnel are entitled to become occupational safety officers. Technical personnel can be technical teachers, physicists, chemists, and people who graduate from the occupational health and safety faculty of any universities. Additionally, the occupational safety professionals are classified in three different classes as A, B and C for very dangerous, dangerous, and less dangerous workplaces in order to hire the right occupational safety professional for the relevant workplace.
A New Profession
After its enactment, the Health and Safety Law created a demand for health and safety professionals, thus creating new professions. As a result, many companies are providing security and safety services, and educational institutions are providing preparation for the related professional exams. It is likely there will be a growing demand for jobs at such companies in the future considering the new health and safety professional requirements. Consequently, a new employment and economic activity field has been created.
1 According to the Report on the Occupational Accident and Health Problems Related to the Profession 2013 of the Turkish Statistics Institute, the number of the employee having occupational accident was 725 in 2007 and the number only decreased to 706 in 2013. (For more information; http://www.tuik.gov.tr/PreHaberBultenleri.do?id=16118)
2 The Report on the Occupational Accident and Health Problems Related to the Profession 2013 of the Turkish Statistics Institute
3 Labor Law; dated May 22, 2003 and numbered 4857 and published in the Official Gazette dated June 10, 2003 and numbered 25134.
4 Occupational Health and Safety Law; dated June 20, 2012 and numbered 6331 and published in the Official Gazette dated June 30, 2012 and numbered 28339.
5 Regulation on the Support of the Occupational Health and Safety Services published in the Official Gazette dated December 24, 2013 and numbered 28861.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.