163 people died in workplace accidents in Turkey in April

A total of 163 people died in workplace accidents in Turkey in April, according to a monthly report by the Health and Safety Labor Watch (İSİG).

Those who lost their lives in work-related accidents included five minors, two of whom were below the age of 14.

Construction was once again the leading sector in fatalities, representing 31 percent of the deaths, followed by agriculture with 17 percent and hospitality with 12 percent.

The most frequent causes of death were crushing incidents, which accounted for 31 deaths, poisoning and suffocation with 20 fatalities and traffic accidents with 16.

A major deadly incident highlighted the issue of workplace safety in April.

On April 2 a fire at a night club under renovation in Istanbul left 30 workers trapped inside the building due to two of the three exits being locked. All 30 died in the incident.

According to the report, no inspections had been conducted since a fire department report in 2016, and the owner of the club and the subcontractor responsible for renovations did not take the necessary precautions.

The report also said the relevant authorities, including the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, the Beşiktaş Municipality, and İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality, failed to conduct necessary inspections and enforce regulations.

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 2022. 

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