Ercüment Erdem Att. Alper Uzun

The Code of Labor Health and Safety and Its Purview

June 2012

Going beyond the Labor Code numbered 4857, the Codeof Labor Health and Safety which provides for the numerous detailed regulations concerning the labor health and safety is promulgated in the Official Gazette in 30 June 2012. Some articles of the Code will enter into force on the publish date, however, general provisions will be enter into force 6 months after the publish date.

The Code regulates duty, competency, responsibility,right and obligations of the employer and employees in order to establish labor health and safety in the working place and to improve the present labor health and safety conditions. The Code will be applied to all affairs, working places, employers in those working places and its agent, including apprentices and interns in the public and private sector regardless of the area of activity. Today, the Code is such as to answer a serious exigency and also this matter is emphasized in its purview.

Working life involves fullest extent of the maters such as labor, working conditions, social security, vocational education, labor health and safety. The article 49 of the Turkish Constitution stipulates “Working is everyone’s right and obligation. State takes all the necessary measures to protect employees and support working in order to enhance the employees’ life standards, improve the occupational life. State takes facilitating and protective precautions in order to establish labor peace in employee-employer relations.” Furthermore, the article 56 of the Constitution stipulates “State provides the continuation of everyone’s life in physical and mental health and it realizes the cooperation increasing savings and efficiency of man and material power.” On this matter, concerning labor health and safety the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 emphasizes “Everyone has the right to work, to choose its professions and to work in fair and convenient workingconditions.” Yet, numerous international agreements regulate that everyone must have fair and convenient working conditions and that the workplaces must provide the necessities of labor health and safety.

The Labor Code numbered 4857 which is currently in force remains limited only with the employees working within scope of a labor contract. Hence, a part of employees in the country stays out of the scope of the Labor Code and for this reason, they can not benefit from the services concerning the labor health and safety.

Today, taking into consideration the changes in the definition of employee and working place, it can be accepted the insufficiency of the definition of the employee as a working person attached to employer and working place in exchange for a payment. In several country, the notion of worker steps forward rather than the notion of employee. Therefore, without making any discrimination, the health and safety of all the workers must be provided against the risks rising from the work during the exercise of profession even if they are not attached to a work place.

Therefore, the purview of the Code is the existence of a difference between the national health and safety legislation and the provisions accepted internationally and the existence of a necessity of its amelioration. The reason of the publish of this Code is also the fact that the employees encounter the dangers in the working place during their all working life, that there is a necessity to take precautions to protect the health and safety of workers in the workplace and that the frequency of occupational accidents and diseases has not been brought to an acceptable level.

Today, it is interiorized a corrective approach involvedgeneral principals concerning creation of constant amelioration and prevention politics, participation of workers to the administration, deliberation, education of employees and representatives. The Code, being prepared in a coherent way with the European Union’s legal acquis, underlines that the providing the health and safety of employees’ in the working place is one the principal duty of an employer.

The Code aims the exercise the professions of employees’ without having concerns of health and safety while they profess and also to create a healthy and peaceful societyalongside of efficiency.

Briefly, the Code prioritizes the employees’ health and safety at work. However, when we scrutinize, it will be revealed that the Code involves numerous regulations. The Code regulates the following matters;

  • The organization of the workplaces to provide a proper working area
  • The sufficiency and convenience of the air-conditioning, lightening, the level of noise and vibration and the other conditions of workplace for the employees’ health
  • Taking the convenient and sufficient precautions in order to prevent the injuries caused by slip, fire, explosion, electric shock and similar risks
  • To provide the design, installation and usage of the machines, tools and equipment in order to prevent diseases and accidents
  • To take precautions for the labor health and safety when it is compulsory to use dangerous materials which can cause disease and accident
  • To use the personal protection equipment provided by the employer in circumstances where common protection measures can not be provided in order to prevent from risks
  • Using vehicles special for the purpose in the employees’ transfer
  • To design the common places such as cafeteria, rest room, etc. in accordance with the necessities of employees
  • To make the necessary arrangements depending on the type and the place of work to determine the measures which will be taken in the workplace
  • To search ways and methods to adapt the work to employees’ changing physical and physiological conditions and if it is possible to apply those methods
  • Making the work convenient for a person
  • To foresee that the employees can give different reactions to the incidents in the workplace, taking into consideration the differences of the people in a general working environment evolution and organization
  • If it is possible, to arrange working place in compliance with the pleasures of different people, taking into consideration psychological and social conditions at work
  • To prevent from monotony, stress and isolation adapting the working conditions to human abilities and depending on this, to provide to the employees the assignment to design their own working conditions
  • To make arrangements by employer in order to help to establish the communication between the employers and to effort to establish the coherence between the different positions.

International and national legislation assigns all responsibility regarding work health and security to employers. It is the general obligation of the employer to protect the health and safety of the employees against any perils and risks arising from the workplace or the work they execute. The obligation of the employers to take measures and the obligation of protection for the employees constitutes at the same time an obligation for the state. The completeness of equipment of the employer while executing this obligation shall not abrogate the responsibility of the employer. Moreover, executing part or all of the obligations of the employer by outsourcing is not deemed sufficient, as laid out by jurisprudence. Therefore, as regulated in detail in this Code, the employer shall prioritize ensuring workplace health and security and make the workplace organization accordingly. The employer shall seek to avoid the perils, fight the risks, accordingly amend workplace conditions and even render the work convenient to the employee. Furthermore, the employer shall provide its employees the necessary training. The Code also foresees certain sanctions against employers who do not fulfill their obligations.

The Code stipulates also in which working place workplace health and safety unit will be created and that the election of the people who will be a part of this unit, its working order, duty, authority and responsibility. Moreover, the right to avoid work which is stipulated in the Labor Code numbered 4857 is improved even if its substance remains the same.

To conclude, this Code contains detailed regulations concerning labor health and safety in conformity with the national and international improvements and answers a serious exigency.