World Occupational Safety and Health Day Celebrated in Turkey for the First Time

OSH DAY CELEBRATEDThe World Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Day was marked with a one-day meeting on 28 April 2015 in Ankara.

Aiming to promote the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases globally, the World OSH Day is an awareness-raising campaign intended to focus international attention on the magnitude of the problem and on how promoting and creating a safety and health culture can help reduce the number of work-related deaths and injuries.

“Working in a healthy and safe environment is a ‘right’ and all OSH practices and implementations should hence be applied and promoted at all levels in order to ensure that this right is applied and effectively used,” said Numan Özcan, the ILO Director for Turkey.

“We hope the social awareness created by the tragic events in Soma and Ermenek will lead to a culture of prevention shift in the area of OSH at all levels of society,” he added.

The ILO has been recognizing the World OSH Day as both a day for commemoration and celebration since 2003 and the day is celebrated this year in Turkey for the first time with a focus on the crucial role of the National OSH Council. The global theme this year is ‘join in building a culture of prevention on OSH.’

Serhat Ayrım, Deputy Undersecretary of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MoLSS), pointed to the legislative works and recent legal amendments to improve OSH culture in Turkey while the Deputy Undersecretary Erhan Batur of MoLLS elaborated on the attention given to OSH within the framework G20 priorities.

Rana Güven, Deputy Director General of Directorate General for OSH, MoLSS, provided an overview of the work of the Natıonal OSH Council since it was established a decade ago.

The ways to promote a preventative safety and health culture in Turkey, in particular in the areas of mining and construction, were discussed in the meeting which also highlighted the importance of establishing preventative OSH culture and the crucial role of continuous attention to risk assessment in this context.

Based on his extensive knowledge and experience Mr Jukka Takala, Senior Consultant to Singapore Ministry of Manpower and Workplace Safety and Health Institute, emphasized the need to have access to realistic data with regard to work-related injuries and deaths in order to be able to measure progress. High numbers should be seen as a mark of effective data collection systems and “The number of occupational accidents is lowest in countries where the recordıng is at the highest level,” according to Takala. In a comparative perspective, Mr Takala said that Turkey is the best country in its region which registers the occupational accidents.

In January 2015, ILO Turkey Office started implementing a one year technical assistance project namely “Improving Occupational Health and Safety in Turkey through Compliance with International Labour Standards” aimed at facilitating the national efforts to improve occupational safety and health, in particular in the areas of mining and construction.

“Safety and Health at work is not only sound economic policy, it is a basic human right,” Takala concluded quoting the statement of Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations.