Two-hundred-and-seventy-six people died in work-related accidents in the first three months of 2014, according to a report released last month by the İstanbul Workers' Health and Job Safety Assembly.
As millions of workers celebrated Labor and Solidarity Day on May 1, job safety and workers' health remain a neglected issue in Turkey.
The report said that 112 died in work-related accidents in March, while 77 died in February and 87 died in January.
Most work-related deaths occur in the construction, mining, trade and agriculture sectors, the report said.
Twenty-five construction workers died in the first three months of the year; 14 of the deaths were the result of falls.
The report also made special mention of claims that authorities kept silent about the death of a worker during the construction of a new complex for the Prime Ministry on the same day a court reversed a decision by the Ankara Regional Natural Reserves Commission to reduce the degree of protection of the famous Ankara forest where the complex was being built, effectively halting construction of the building.
Ankara Chamber of Architects head Tezcan Karakuş Candan's said at a press conference in late March that Savaş Oğuz died after falling from a scaffold at the construction site, but that the death had not been reported to the public.
According to reports released by the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat), the construction sector is ranked first in work-related accidents, with four out of every 100 construction workers suffering a work-related accident each year.
In a press release in late March, Precast and Scaffold Systems Manufacturers Association (KALİSDER) President Serdar Urfalılar said that 43 percent of fatal work accidents and 33 percent of accidents involving injury in the construction sector were the result of falls. He added that increasing the usage of formwork and scaffolding systems would significantly reduce the occupational hazards of working on a construction site.
On April 6, scaffolding for a viaduct at the construction site of İstanbul's third Bosporus bridge collapsed as concrete was being poured, resulting in the deaths of three construction workers after they fell 50 meters to the ground.
The accident occurred in the district of Beykoz on the Asian side of the city. A team of over 100 police, firefighters and medics was dispatched to the scene, where 48-year-old Yaşar Bulut as well as 50-year-olds Lütfü Bulut and Kahraman Baltaoğlu were found dead. Also injured in the accident was 42-year-old Sonay Bulut.
Turkey has seen a rise in the number of these fatalities. The İstanbul Workers' Health and Job Safety Assembly's annual report for 2013 said 1,235 died in work-related accidents in Turkey that year.
Thirteen children died in work-related incidents in the first three months of 2014. Six of these were under 15 years old and seven of them were 15-17 years old. On the other hand, 25 workers 51 and older died on the job in the same period.
Most of the work accidents took place in the provinces of Mersin, İstanbul, Kars and İzmir.
According to data released by the Labor and Social Security Ministry in 2013, 172 work accidents happen daily in Turkey, four of which, on average, are fatal. Ministry officials say both workers and employers are now receiving work-safety education to minimize accidents.
The ministry estimates the total annual cost of work accidents in Turkey at TL 7.7 billion. According to data released by the Eskişehir Work Development Center (ESİŞGEM) in May of 2013, one worker dies every six hours in Turkey.
276 workers die in the first 3 months of 2014, report shows
(Photo: Today's Zaman)
May 01, 2014, Thursday/ 19:37:56/ TODAY'S ZAMAN | ANKARA