Occupational safety expert sparks outrage for trying to fit dead worker with safety harness after workplace accident

An occupational safety expert sparked outrage after he tried to fit a safety harness on the lifeless body of a 19-year-old dockyard worker who died in a workplace accident in an attempt to cover up the employer’s liability, the Birgün daily reported.

Yasin Demirdağ died on August 17 after falling from a height in a dockyard in western Yalova province. The young man had not been wearing a safety harness. A video emerged on Sunday showing other workers trying to prevent the expert from fitting the dead man’s body with a harness.

The video was shared by the Confederation of Revolutionary Workers Unions (DISK) on Twitter. “Authorities at the dockyard are trying to cover up their liability by fitting a harness on an already dead worker,” DISK said. “We need to put an end to these unacceptable practices.”

The video sparked outrage among opposition politicians. Veli Ağbaba from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) said safety precautions were supposed to be taken to prevent accidents from occurring. “Nobody cares about workers and their safety,” he added. “Not only are they [employers] risking human lives, they are also committing fraud, and we need to hold them accountable!”

Hacer Foggo, founder of the Istanbul-based Deep Poverty Network, said the video was a clear example of how workers were exploited by companies.

People have been suffering from lax work safety standards for decades in Turkey, where workplace accidents are nearly a daily occurrence. In the worst work-related accident in the country’s history, 301 miners died in an explosion in Manisa’s Soma district in May 2014.

The country ranked first in Europe in the number of fatal workplace accidents in 2018, with 1,541 work-related deaths, according to the European Statistical Office (Eurostat) and Turkey’s Social Security Institution (SGK) data.

A total of 28,380 people have died in workplace accidents in Turkey since the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, according to an İSİG report released in November.

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