139 workers died in occupational accidents in Turkey in May: report

A total of 139 people died in workplace accidents in Turkey in May, according to a monthly report by the Health and Safety Labor Watch (İSİG).

Those who lost their lives in work-related accidents included two minors.

As usual, construction was the leading sector in fatalities, representing 28 percent of deaths, followed by transportation with 16 percent and agriculture and forestry with 9 percent.

The most frequent causes of death were road accidents, which accounted for 25 percent of all deaths, crushing incidents with 21 percent and falling from heights, 17 percent.

A major deadly incident highlighted the issue of workplace safety earlier this year. A devastating landslide occurred at the Çöpler Gold Mine in Erzincan’s İliç district on February 13, trapping nine workers under debris. All of the workers died.

People have been suffering from lax work safety standards for decades in Turkey, where workplace accidents are nearly a daily occurrence. İSİG reported nearly 2,000 work-related deaths in 2023.

According to the group, more than 30,000 occupational accidents have taken place since the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in November 2002.

İSİG General Coordinator Murat Çakır had earlier said the reason for the record number of fatalities in work-related accidents has to do with the policies of the AKP, which he said aim to turn Turkey into a source of cheap labor for Europe.

According to Çakır, workers feel obliged to work under unsafe conditions fearing that they will become jobless and unable to support their families.

İSİG began to record occupational fatalities in 2011. The platform also records the number of workers who died due to the lack of work safety in past years in addition to campaigning for stricter measures to maintain safety in workplaces.

A yearly report by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) on labor rights reveals that Turkey is one of the 10 worst countries in the world for working people. According to the Brussels-based ITUC, workers’ freedoms and rights continued to be relentlessly denied with police crackdowns on protests in Turkey in 2023. 

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