Turkish Minute

Turkey registers 2,427 workplace deaths in 2020: report

A view of the terminal building under construction at the site of the Istanbul New Airport on April 13, 2018 during press tour in northern Istanbul. The inauguration of the airport, planned to be the largest in the world, will take place in October 2018. OZAN KOSE / AFP

Turkey, which has a poor record of workplace safety, recorded 2,427 workplace deaths in 2020, according to a report from Turkey’s Health and Safety Labor Watch (İSİG).

Turkey’s labor watchdog, which defines workplace deaths as murder because it considers them avoidable, drafted the report based on relevant news reports in local and national media outlets and information gathered from coworkers and families of victims as well as work safety experts, workplace doctors and labor unions.

According to the İSİG report, the highest number of workplace deaths took place in İstanbul, Turkey’s most populous city, with 325 fatalities, followed by the western province of İzmir with 111 and Kocaeli with 99.

The deaths of 741 workers due to the coronavirus pandemic have also been included in the report as these deaths could have been avoided if the necessary measures had been taken to prevent them, according to İSİG.

Turkey is one of the hardest-hit countries in the world by the coronavirus pandemic where the current death toll stands at 23,325, according to official figures.

Among the victims of the workplace deaths, 101 were migrants while 68 were minors, the report revealed.

The highest number of deaths took place in the agriculture/forestry sector with 442 fatalities, followed by construction with 335 and then by the healthcare sector with 330 deaths. Turkey has lost numerous healthcare professionals who have been infected with the coronavirus during the fight against the pandemic.

Turkey has suffered for decades from low work safety standards, with workplace accidents a near daily occurrence. Turkey’s worst-ever work accident was a mining disaster that occurred on May 13, 2014 in the western district of Soma, claiming the lives of 301 coal miners.

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