Supervision of Occupational Health and Safety in Turkey

January 15, 2024by Bünyamin Esen0

Occupational health and safety (OHS) is a critical aspect of a nation’s labour force management. Ensuring the well-being and security of workers is not only a moral obligation but also essential for the productivity and economic growth of a country.

In Turkey, the supervision of occupational health and safety has gained increasing importance over the years. This essay explores the mechanisms and challenges associated with OHS supervision in Turkey, highlighting its evolution and the need for continuous improvement.


Historical Perspective

Turkey’s journey in regulating occupational health and safety can be traced back to the late 19th century when the country was transitioning from the Ottoman Empire to a republic. In the early years, the focus was primarily on regulations in the mining industry, which was central to Turkey’s economy. However, the awareness of broader occupational safety issues took some time to develop.

The 1940s marked a significant turning point, as Turkey established the Ministry of Labour in 1945. The OHS has gained momentum in the early 1970s. This period also saw the establishment of the Occupational Health and Safety Institute (ISGUM) in 1969, tasked with enforcing and overseeing OHS regulations. In 1971 the Labour Code No. 1475 has been issued which also regulates OHS for workplaces. Subsequent decades witnessed a series of amendments and improvements, particularly in the wake of Turkey’s pursuit of European Union membership.


Current Mechanisms of OHS Supervision

Currently, the highest legal base for the OHS of Turkey is the Occupational Health and Safety Code No. 6331.

Supervision of OHS in Turkey involves a multi-tiered approach, including government agencies, labour unions, employers, and workers. The main components of OHS supervision in Turkey include:

  1. Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MoLSS): This government body is primarily responsible for formulating OHS policies and regulations. They set standards for workplace safety and health, conduct inspections, and provide guidance for compliance.
  2. Occupational Health and Safety Units (OSGB): OSGBs are private organizations authorized to provide OHS services to employers. They conduct workplace risk assessments, health monitoring, and training programs to enhance OHS standards. Within certain conditions, the employer is obliged to provide OHS services via OSGB units.
  3. Labour Inspectors: The Ministry of Labour and Social Security employs labour inspectors who conduct regular inspections at workplaces to ensure compliance with OHS regulations. They have the authority to issue fines, suspend operations, and close down businesses if necessary.
  4. Labor Unions and Employee Representatives: Workers and their unions play a significant role in monitoring and advocating for OHS. They have the right to report OHS violations and contribute to the development of safety policies.


Challenges and Areas for Improvement

Despite the progress made in the supervision of OHS in Turkey, several challenges persist:

  1. Enforcement and Compliance: One of the biggest challenges is ensuring full compliance with OHS regulations, especially in smaller enterprises where awareness and resources are limited. More effective enforcement measures are needed to address this issue.
  2. Workplace Accidents: Turkey has historically experienced a high rate of workplace accidents and fatalities, as the country has the highest number of work accident within the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) members. This calls for a more proactive approach to identifying high-risk industries and implementing preventative measures.
  3. Informal Economy: A significant portion of the Turkish workforce operates in the informal economy, which makes it challenging to regulate and enforce OHS standards in these unregistered and unmonitored workplaces. The informal employment rate is approximately 24% as of December 2023.
  4. Worker Awareness: There is a need for increased awareness among workers about their rights and the importance of adhering to OHS regulations. This could be achieved through education and training programs.
  5. Integration with EU Standards: As Turkey continues its pursuit of EU membership, aligning its OHS standards with EU regulations is essential. This entails harmonizing policies, practices, and enforcement mechanisms.


In conclusion, supervision of occupational health and safety in Turkey has come a long way, evolving from its early days of regulations primarily in the mining sector to a more comprehensive system. However, challenges related to compliance, workplace accidents, the informal economy, worker awareness, and alignment with EU standards persist. To further enhance OHS supervision, Turkey should focus on improving enforcement, raising awareness, and fostering cooperation among stakeholders. The goal is to ensure the well-being and safety of all workers while supporting the country’s economic development and growth.

Bünyamin Esen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect with us

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest news and updates on ArnoldStanley.

    Connect with us

    Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest news and updates on ArnoldStanley.

      2020 Copyright by ArnoldStanley. All rights reserved.

      2020 Copyright by ArnoldStanley. All rights reserved.