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Report on Work Murders

Report on Work Murders in 2016: In Turkey, at least 1970 workers are murdered in 2016!

Workers’ Health and Work Safety Assembly (Turkey) – WHSA (İşçi Sağlığı ve İş Güvenliği Meclisi) is a coordination, a labour organization founded by workers, public employees, workers’ families, doctors, engineers, academicians, journalists, lawyers… and their organizations. WHSA is independent from the state and the capital, and it coordinates the common struggle for safety and health at workplaces.

Work-related murders are not accidental, destiny, nor natural; they are avoidable!

In our law, the scope of the definition of work-related accident and work-related disease is quite limited. The reason behind that is deaths, injuries, disabilities and diseases are conceived based simply on the compensation law, which would result in less number of work-related accidents and work-related diseases considered within the idea of “compensation,” and thus less cost to the bosses. Same goes with the penal law as well.

On the other hand, our perspective is integral. We, as WHSA do record incidents of worker deaths as many as we can identify. Our criteria for those records are as follows:

1- Why do we use the concept of “worker health” instead of “work health”? In our law the concept of “work health” is preferred. However, this concept refers to an approach aiming at the health of the work, in other words the efficiency and profitability of the premises. However, workers’ health comes first, not financial interests of any kind, nor growth objectives. That is why labourers should use the concept of “worker health.”

2- Why do we have to say “work-related murder” or in short “work murder” instead of “work accident”? The common ground of our Assembly is the idea that all work-related accidents are avoidable. Basic consequence of the idea that all work-related accidents are avoidable, is to be able to define what we experience as capitalist “work-related murders” or as in Turkey shortly called “work murders” instead of work-related “accidents”, “destiny” or “natural”…

3- Who should be within the scope of the concept of “work-related murder”? According to the October 2015 data of the Turkish Statistical Institute, out of over 58 million working age population, the workforce consists of 30 million and 3 thousand people, and the rate of men is 71,9% whereas of women is 31,8%. The rate of people working out of the social security system is 33,6%. On the other hand, 20,4% of the employees are in the agriculture sector, 20% in the industry, 7,6% in the construction, and 52% at the service sectors.

Based on these facts, we should;

a) Consider all worker/employee deaths (in or out of the social security system); in or out of the workplace; while working, travelling to/from workplace (with his/her means, or shuttles provided by the workplace), accommodating, eating etc, in other words “in the entirety of the work processes” as work-related murders.

b) Take domestic worker, security worker, shop-keeper, farmer, public employee, and non-Turkish citizen worker deaths as work-related murders as well.

c) In our country, deaths of many workers working out of the social security system and of some in the system are not recorded. Therefore, it can be stated that the number of worker deaths are way bigger than the data given by the Social Security Institution (SGK), governmental organization in Turkey.

4- Not 98%, but 100% of the work-related murders can be avoided. “98% can be avoided, but 2% is unavoidable”: That is the discourse even the labour movement appropriates. The origin of this discourse goes back to 1932. In his “domino model” Heinrich described the processes causing accidents as linear processes. He assumed social environment/inherited characteristics, human error, unsecure behaviours, mechanical and physical hazards, accidents and injuries as domino pieces affecting each other. Leading characteristic of this model is “the human error” factor being at the centre. Heinrich assessed 75.000 compensation/insurance claims, and concluded that 88% of those accidents were based on unsecure behaviour by individuals, 10% were originated from mechanical and physical conditions, and 2% were unavoidable.

Then the following questions come to mind: Who hears the compensation/insurance cases? How do decision making processes operate? Isn’t the law being interpreted based on the interests of the sovereign class? Who write the accident reports up, based on which perspective? In a changing society, technology, information, organization, societal values are all bound to change as well. However, when it comes to avoid work-related murders, majority of experts and operators still believe in the domino model. A variety of models with different scopes have been proposed after the domino model, causes lying behind workplace deaths and injuries have been elaborated, and several theories based on sound scientific bases have been developed. Common ground of those theories is taking the production process as a system, and considering this system as a subsystem of the societal system.

At least 1970 workers are murdered in 2016!

Please see full text of report: OHS_Report