Occupational Safety and Health

Improving Occupational Health and Safety in Turkey through compliance with International Labour Standards

The objective of this project is to facilitate the improvement of OSH in Turkey in line with international commitments made, in particular in the areas of mining and construction, in consultation with the tripartite constituents.

Following the mine disaster in Turkey on 13 May 2014 where 301 mine workers were perished, the ILO, the Turkish Government and social partners engaged in consultations with the ILO on possible modalities for improving OSH in Turkey, in particular in mining and construction. These consultations were also pursued in the context of a National Tripartite Meeting, organized by the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services (MoFLSS) in cooperation with the ILO, on 16-17 October 2014 and resulted in an agreement that the ILO would provide technical assistance over to facilitate, in tripartite consultation, the improvement of OSH in line with relevant international labour standards and comments made by the supervisory bodies of the ILO. Against this background, the ILO set up a Technical assistance project on OSH at the ILO Office for Turkey as of January 2015 and manned by a CTA and a National Programme Officer.
This project aimed at developing a practical roadmap on efforts required to improve OSH conditions in Turkey and to ensure an improved compliance with international commitments made in this respect with due account taken of the Third National Policy and Action plan on OSH adopted 22 December 2014. To ensure sustainable change, work under this project also comprises the development of a comprehensive technical cooperation project to strengthen the national OSH system in line with ILO Conventions, improve enforcement mechanism through labour inspection and mainstream a preventative safety and health and workplace compliance culture in Turkey.
Following the end of the first project, another RBSA funded project was carried out by the ILO Office for Turkey focusing on a pursuit of the work initiated in 2015 in particular regarding the management of OSH in line with the Conventions Nos. 155 as well as Convention No. 187. Efforts were pursued to improve the knowledge and capacity of the national constituents to use national standards on OSH rights, duties and responsibilities, taking into account ILO Conventions Nos. 81, 155, 161 as well as the newly ratified Conventions Nos 167 and 176. Activities also addressed improving awareness and knowledge regarding ILO reporting and supervisory mechanisms.


Over the past decade, Turkey has been engaged in a process of reform of its national OSH system, harmonizing it with international and regional standards regarding national as well as enterprise level requirements for prevention and risk assessment reflected, inter alia, in the ILO Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981 (No. 155) ratified by Turkey in 2005. Turkey also ratified the Occupational Health Services Convention, 1985 (No. 161) in 2005 and has been a party to the Labour Inspection Convention, 1945 (No. 81) since 1951. Most recently, in 2014, Turkey ratified the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 2006 (No. 187). This reform process has involved a reshaping of national OSH legislation and has included the adoption of a new stand-alone OSH Act (No. 6331 of 20 June 2012). This Act, which is generally applicable across all sectors, attributes central importance to prevention and risk assessment and is aimed at continuous improvement of national OSH conditions for all workers. Since its adoption a number of related OSH regulations have been revised or updated.
Workplace accidents, including, in particular, the fire in an underground mine in Soma in 2014 where 301 miners perished, caused increased focus to be placed on the state of occupational safety and health in Turkey. It gave a new impetus to the need to step up the national efforts to improve OSH, in particular in the areas of mining and construction. As part of these efforts Turkey ratified the Safety and Health in Construction Convention, 1988, (No. 167) and the Safety and Health in Mining Convention, 1995 (No. 176) on 23 March 2015.


Technical assistance (activities carried out and initiated)
  • Celebrating the World OSH Day 28 April 2015 with the members of the National OSH Council and invited specialists to discuss how best to promote a preventative safety and health culture in Turkey, in particular in the areas of construction and mining.
  • Creating a benchmark for progress related to the renewed efforts to improve OSH by mapping the current national OSH system in Turkey in a National Profile on OSH in line with the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Recommendation, 2006 (No. 197).
  • Commissioning a major study from the research institution TEPAV in Turkey on “Contractual arrangements in the mining sector in Turkey: Forms, Extent, drivers, legal context, and impact on OSH.” The outcome of this study will be discussed in the tripartite meeting scheduled for the beginning of July 2015 and be launched in a public event in early September.
  • Holding workshops on recording and notification of occupational accidents and diseases, to be followed up by a subsequent meeting at the end of the year as well as analyses and studies.
  • Establishing a dialogue with the judiciary in order to further the rights of workers and their possibilities to exercise it.
  • Commissioning studies on the compliance in national law and practice of Conventions Nos. 167 and 176.
  • Engaging in a dialogue with the national tripartite constituents on the prioritization of actions to be taken in the context of the national and international guidance provided. Target areas identified so far, labour inspection and training of workers.
  • Preparation of TC project proposal: Draft EU Project Fiche developed in the context of the EU IPA II project title Human Resources Development Sectoral Operational Programme (HRD SOP) on “Improving Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) and workplace conditions in Turkey, in particular in the mining and construction sectors”.
  • In the follow-up project, the activities include work to enhance the national capacity to manage OSH in line with the relevant instruments : by monitoring progress in the area of OSH through indicators; to support the efforts to improve the national system for collecting relevant data; to enhance the awareness of the leading role of employers in the building of a safety culture; to clarify the roles and functions of the occupational safety experts (OSEs) and occupational physicians (OPHs); and to strengthen the capacity of stakeholders at the enterprise level to apply OSH laws and regulations. Awareness raising activities targeted the judiciary and legal educators with the objective to promote the future holding of a training course on ILO and ILS in Turkey where judges and legal educators will be trained on the substance of ILO standards in general and OSH standards in particular. Another specific target is the Syrian refugees. The OSH training modules were reviewed and adapted in a way to fit the needs of the refugees, in line with ILO OSH standards during the vocational trainings organized under the ILO Project “Improving livelihoods and decent work opportunities for Syrian refugees and host communities”.