The İstanbul Council for Worker Health and Work Safety (İSİG) has reported that at least 1,963 workers, including 51 child laborers and 74 refugees, have lost their lives over the past one year since a state of emergency, known as OHAL, was declared last July after a botched coup attempt.
İSİG said the number of worker deaths increased after the declaration of the state of emergency since certain regulations have been suspended, punishments have been ignored and the voices of workers have been silenced.
“Instead of collective work-related deaths, individual work-related deaths increased and became constant and continuous after the declaration of OHAL. This situation indicates that the deprivation of our workers of the right to speak up and take part in the decision-making processes of our country and in the workplace has become severe. The obligation of hiring industrial safety experts and workplace doctors in dangerous workplaces with less than 50 workers and in public places was suspended until July 1, 2020 during the OHAL period. Again changes were made in some articles of the regulation regarding industrial accidents, and some obligations were suspended until 2019,” said the report.
İstanbul is ranked highest in terms of having the biggest number of work-related deaths at 213, followed by Kocaeli, Bursa, İzmir and Antalya provinces with more than 70 work-related deaths in each.
Twenty-five percent of the workers lost their lives in traffic accidents, 18 percent were either crushed to death or remained under rubble and 17 percent died after falling. Fifteen percent of the workers were under the age of 14, while 36 percent were between 15 and 17 years of age.
Construction was the deadliest sector with 449 deaths, followed by agriculture with 360 and transportation with 287 deaths.
“Injustice and lack of punishment still continue after work-related deaths. In trials, the real parties responsible are not brought to court and secondarily liable people are given short sentences, and these punishments are commuted into fines to be paid in 24 months in installments,” said İSİG.