Deterioration of the economy and profit-focused greed of employers has forced Turkey into the vortex of occupational fatality. This vortex costs hundreds of workers’ lives each year. Calls from professional chambers remained unanswered by the government that said: “death is destiny in this”.
While rapidly developing science, technology and industrialization in recent years have been benefiting the development levels in many countries, it is hard to say there is similar progress in the fields of a healthy workplace, occupational health and work safety. Significant decline in number of workplace accidents and occupational fatalities was expected as a result of welfare increase and technological development; however, workers, especially in developing countries, are condemned to profit-focused greed of employers and governments which carry fuel to the fire.
Cost of industrialization and development created a working population that is malnourished, cannot be protected enough from workplace accidents and occupational diseases, feels the fear of being unemployed or losing their job, is obstructed to be organized by that fear, worries about social security.
Where human rights and democracy culture, criticism and investigation mechanisms are obstructed in a country, which already have not been able to create social welfare state, contractor employment becomes more prevalent, and the wound of occupational fatalities has been getting ever-deeper as a result. Moreover, this wound has been deepening rapidly due to child labour in production and unregistered migrant workers with lower wages.
While the situation that world is facing, has been deepening this wound, due to the attitude of Turkish executives; Turkey is one of the countries that has been affected the most from that.
FATALITIES ARE TWICE THE NUMBER ANNOUNCED
According to the report of the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB), there are also data related to people who received a widower’s pension because of workplace accidents and occupational diseases in Social Security Institution’s statics. According to 2013 data; 76.859 people due to workplace accident deaths, 4.401 people due to occupational disease deaths received a pension and in total 81.260 people received a widower’s pension in 52.536 cases.
In 2013, 637 people from 2013 and 1.347 people from previous years and in total 1.984 people got widower’s pension due to occupational fatalities; 159 people from 2013 and 99 people from previous years and in total 258 people received a widower’s pension due to occupational disease related deaths.
As can be seen from the data, there has been difficulty in analyzing a number of people who received widower’s pension due to that year’s deaths through that year’s data. Therefore, it is necessary to determine averages and scrutinize the data. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Aziz Çelik researched on this topic (insert link here) in 2015. The infographic table above shows deaths are twice the number stated.
OCCUPATIONAL FATALITY IS INCREASING INSTEAD OF DECREASING
When we look at the occupational fatality table from 1967 until today, the data reveals emerging number of fatalities. While a number of total deaths stated from 1960s to mid-1990s proceeded horizontally in general, except for the rise and fall in certain years, it is possible to see a decreasing trend after the jump in 1966 until Justice and Development Party (AKP) government in 2002. According to the data that the International Labour Organization (ILO) received from Social Security Institution of Turkey, in 2008 we see the lowest worker deaths of calculated amount until now. However, after 2010 and especially after 2013 worker deaths have been led by the construction industry. During the time when 2018 data had not been announced fully, with the economic recession and unemployment problem, the data had been expected to be lower than the 2017’s peak number, and this has been actualized.
NUMBER OF WORK RELATED ACCIDENTS BY YEARS ALSO REVEALS TERRIFYING NUMBERS
If we look at the workplace accidents instead of occupational fatality, the results are similar. While the number of workplace accidents was proceeding horizontally from 1995 to 2013, the decrease in frequency of workplace accidents(in color orange) is seen because of the increase in number of workers in total. This table is in accordance with technological development. However, the table that is seen during and after 2013 draws a picture of Turkey, that goes against all developments, from a different perspective.
While the number of workplace accidents per 100 workers decreased down to 0.55 in 2012, it increased two and a half times more and reached up to 1.32 in a year. The increase in number of workers has not remained limited to one year: in 2014, 2015 and 2016 the rate increased up to 1.47, 1.52 and 1.78 respectively. Because the Ministry of Labour has not published the data of 2017, this table is limited only to 2016’s data.
CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY LEADS IN DEATHS
Occupational Health and Safety Council’s data demonstrate up-to-date tables regarding recent months. It stands out that occupational fatality increases in the construction industry in autumn and winter while it increases in the agricultural sector in spring and summer.
From the data of 2013-2017, it can be seen that every year, construction industry is the sector that deaths took place the most without exception. In 2014, when Soma mining disaster happened and 305 workers died, the number of deaths in mining accidents was more than the number of deaths in transportation and agricultural sectors. Other years the number of deaths in the transportation and agricultural sector was coming after construction industry. However in 2018 the picture changes and deaths in agricultural sector has surpassed the construction industry.
THE GREATEST FACTOR IN DEATHS ARE TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS
The causes of deaths are a traffic accident, crush-wreckage injury and falling alternately. These causes are followed by electric shock.
OCCUPATIONAL FATALITY AND 2018: DEATHS IN AGRICULTURAL SECTOR PASSED DEATHS IN CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY
According to the Occupational Health and Safety Council’s data, 1.923 workers lost their lives due to occupational fatality in 2018. 119 of them were women. 67 of them were children and 110 of them were migrants. Deaths in the agricultural sector(457) passed deaths in the construction industry (438) for the first time after many years. Traffic/service accidents rank first with 21.22 in causes of deaths. Crush-wreckage injury with 19.71 and falling with 16.9 follows traffic accidents in ranking. Only 47 of 1923 workers were a member of a labour union. In other words, being a member of labour union is one of the most important assurances behind fair and safe working conditions.
Translation: Cangül Aydın