Turkish Government Responds to Mining Tragedy with New Safety Regulations

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On May 13, 2014, a fire broke out in a coal mine in Soma, Turkey, trapping many miners underground. The final confirmed death toll: 301. The tragedy sparked widespread protests against the government. Six months later, the Turkish government finally responded.

On Nov. 12, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced tightened workplace safety regulations and tougher penalties for violations, including prison terms for those found liable in fatal workplace incidents. In addition, administrative penalties will be increased for violations such as not supplying workers with PPE that conforms to the necessary standards.

A total of 36 new workplace safety regulations will be implemented, said Davutoglu at a press conference.

Turkey has seen rapid economic development over the past decade but worker safety hasn’t kept pace.

Other recent safety incidents in Turkey:

  • Flooding of a coal mine trapped 18 workers in the Ermenek district of Turkey’s central Karaman province on Oct. 28.
  • On Sept. 6, 10 workers died after an elevator plunged from the 32nd to the ground floor at a large construction site.

Other changes to the country’s OHS laws—some specific to the mining sector and others to workplaces in general—include:

  • Companies will be banned from public tenders for two years if convicted for a workplace fatality. This ban is in addition to any penalties imposed by a court.
  • Those working in highly dangerous jobs will have to hold a professional competence training certificate.
  • New required courses on workplace health and safety will be given in vocational schools.
  • Only certified occupational safety specialists will be allowed to be leadmen in mines and site chiefs in construction sites.
  • In case of an emergency or danger, all operations in a workplace will halt automatically without relying on inspectors’ discretion.
  • Activities and operations in mining basins will now have to be regularly recorded and updated in an online registry system.
  • Inspections in mines and construction sites must be recorded with photographs and videos.
  • Emergency routines and drills must now be conducted twice a year.
  • Mining companies will be required to provide life insurance for miners.

Learn more about how safety in Canadian mines is regulated and the lessons from a report on a 2010 West Virginia mining incident that you can apply in your workplace regardless of your industry sector.