World Bulletin/News Desk
The Turkish government has introduced a new system of precautions and sanctions to enhance working conditions, ensure workers' safety and prevent the exploitation of labor, after a recent wave of mine disasters in Turkey.
The move came after the flooding of a coal mine trapped 18 workers in the Ermenek district of Turkey’s central Karaman province on October 28, about 400 kilometers (250 miles) south of Ankara.
Search and rescue teams have recovered the bodies of two of the miners so far.
"Highly-dangerous workplaces with no record of accidents will be rewarded, those having accidents will be penalized," Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a press briefing at the Prime Ministry Office in Ankara on Wednesday.
Turkey was also hit by an elevator accident in Istanbul on September 6.
Ten workers died after an elevator plunged from the 32nd to the ground floor in a large construction site in the city's Mecidiyekoy commercial district.
"Since the elevator accident, 2,079 construction sites have been inspected and 1,610 of them have been stopped," he said.
He announced that they will also increase administrative fines for workplaces to ensure employers abide by work safety standards and guarantee the lives of their workers.
"Employers not supplying their workers with personal protection equipment which conforms to the necessary standards will receive administrative penalties," he warned.
The prime minister added that there will be a record system for employers where a workplace or an employer convicted for a fatal work accident will be denied from bidding for public tenders for two years.
This is in addition to the penalty that will be imposed by the courts.
Davutoglu stressed that sanctions alone are not enough to prevent accidents, but a total change of mentality for both workers and employers is needed to improve working conditions.
"It is important for our citizens and workers to have awareness regarding their safety," he continued.
Davutoglu added that the precautions also aim to enable successful crisis management in workplaces.
He stated that those working in highly-dangerous jobs will have to hold a professional competence training certificate and new obligatory courses on work health and safety will be given in vocational schools.
Furthermore, only certified occupational safety specialists will be allowed to be leadmen in mines and site chiefs in construction sites.
Additional practices will also be introduced to prevent employers from forcing workers to finish their work in limited time periods
Thus, contract deadlines for workplaces operating on royalties will be extended to at least 15 years.
The prime minister continued by saying that royalties will only exist in the public -- not the private -- sector, and royalty rights in public tenders cannot be transferred to other employers.
"In case of an emergency or danger, all operations in a workplace will halt automatically without relying on inspectors' discretion," Davutoglu said.
He added that activities and operations in mining basins will now have to be regularly recorded and updated in an online registry system.
This will enable Turkey's General Directorate of Mining Affairs and other regulatory agencies to more easily oversee the operations.
Davutoglu added that the inspections in mines and constructions must be recorded with photographs and videos, and the yearly-held emergency routines and drills will be conducted twice a year from now on.
As another key step towards improvement of working conditions, there will be lifelines in mines illuminated with phosphorus lamps in case of emergencies.
Special measures for mining sector
Davutoglu stressed that the mining companies will be obliged to provide life insurance for miners and that mining basins and sites will be supervised by accredited, independent firms.
"The mines that currently have operating licenses will be re-audited," he continued.
He stated that they will also make efforts to further develop and enhance basin mining in Turkey by amalgamating small mining businesses.
The prime minister highlighted that a certain amount of the license cost received by license holders will be allocated to the rehabilitation and modernization of mines, within the budget system of Turkish Finance Ministry.
This measure will enable the Turkish state to revamp the mines if the regular inspections indicate that improvements are needed. The costs will then be invoiced to the employer.
"There will be a condition of financial capability while assessing demand for mining permits," he added.
Davutoglu added that technical search mechanisms will be established for mineral exploration, so as to boost Turkey's national mining capacity.Last Mod: 12 Kasım 2014, 17:21