07/04/2023

Occupational Health and Safety Committee in Turkey

Occupational Health and Safety Committee in Turkey scaled 1

Article 22 of the Occupational Health and Safety Law No. 6331 in Turkey stipulates that employers who meet certain conditions must establish an occupational health and safety committee, and Article 30 stipulates that a regulation shall be issued regarding the working principles of this committee. The aforementioned regulation was published in the Official Gazette dated 18.01.2013 and numbered 28532 as “Regulation on Occupational Health and Safety in Turkey Committees”.

According to Articles 22 of the Law and Articles 4 and 5 of the Regulation, in workplaces with 50 or more employees and where continuous work is carried out for more than six months, the employer will establish a board (occupational health and safety board in Turkey) to carry out work on occupational health and safety. In cases where there are multiple workplaces such as factories, establishments, enterprises or groups of enterprises affiliated to the same employer, it is necessary to establish a separate board in each workplace with fifty or more employees. In such a case, the employer shall ensure coordination and exchange of information between the committees, and the employer shall ensure that the occupational health and safety reports of these workplaces are examined by the relevant technical staff and experts at least once every three months in order to regulate the working procedures of the committees to be established in each of the multiple workplaces and to ensure unity of work and opinion. It will also determine the measures to be taken by taking these reports into consideration and ensure their implementation.

Apart from this general situation, the law and the regulation have also made some arrangements in the same provisions about the situations where there is a principal employer-subcontractor relationship lasting more than six months. Accordingly

– If the number of employees of the main employer and the sub-employer is fifty or more separately, both of them will establish a separate board and co-operation and coordination on the implementation of occupational health and safety in Turkey activities and the implementation of the decisions taken by the boards will be provided by the main employer.

– If the number of employees of only the main employer in a workplace is fifty or more, then the board will be established only by the main employer. The sub-employer, who is not obliged to establish a board, shall appoint an authorised representative by proxy to ensure coordination regarding the implementation of the decisions taken by the board.

– If the number of employees of the sub-employer is fifty or more and the number of employees of the main employer is less than fifty, the board will be established by the sub-employer. In this case, the main employer shall appoint an authorized representative by proxy to ensure coordination regarding the implementation of the decisions taken by the board.

– If the number of employees of the main and sub-employer is less than fifty separately but the total number of employees is more than fifty, the coordination will be made by the main employer and a joint board will be formed by both employers. In the formation of the board, the members will be appointed by the joint decision of both employers in accordance with Article 6 of the regulation.

It is stipulated in the same article that both employers will be responsible for the training due to the obligation stipulated by Article 7 of the regulation in the context of the principal and subcontractor relationship and covering the training of the members of the board.

In the event that there is more than one employer in the same working area and more than one board is established by these employers, the employers shall inform the other employers about the board decisions that may affect each other’s work.

According to Article 6 of the Regulation, the occupational health and safety committee in Turkey shall consist of the employer or the employer’s representative, occupational safety specialist, occupational physician, a person in charge of managing human resources, personnel, social affairs or administrative and financial affairs, civil defense specialist if any, foreman, foreman or master if any, employee representative, and if there is more than one employee representative, the chief representative.

The chairman of the board shall be the employer or the employer’s representative and the secretary of the board shall be the occupational safety specialist. In workplaces where the occupational safety specialist is not required to work full-time, the secretariat of the board will be carried out by a person in charge of managing human resources, personnel, social affairs or administrative and financial affairs. Where there is more than one occupational safety specialist and workplace physician, the employer will assign them. In the assignment of an occupational safety specialist, one of the specialists appropriate to the hazard class of the workplace shall be assigned. The foreman or foreman member mentioned in the article shall be elected by open vote at a meeting attended by more than half of the foremen, foremen or masters in that workplace, and otherwise appointed by the employer. The substitutes shall be elected by the same method.

According to Article 7 of the Regulation, the employer shall provide occupational health and safety training to the members and substitutes of the committee in Turkey. The training of the members and substitutes should at least cover the duties and powers of the occupational health and safety committee, national legislation and standards, causes of common occupational accidents and dangerous incidents, basic principles of occupational hygiene, communication techniques, emergency measures, occupational diseases, special risks of workplaces, risk assessment.

Article 8 of the Regulation lists the duties and powers of the committee. According to this, the committee

– Preparing a draft occupational health and safety in Turkey internal directive in accordance with the nature of the workplace, having this draft approved by the employer and monitoring the implementation of the directive, reporting the results of the monitoring, determining the measures to be taken and taking them to the board agenda,

– Guiding employees in that workplace on occupational health and safety issues,

– Assessing the hazards and measures related to occupational health and safety in the workplace, determining the measures, notifying the employer or the employer’s representative,

– To carry out the necessary research and examination in case of every occupational accident occurring in the workplace and incidents that occur in the workplace but are not considered as occupational accidents and incidents that have the potential to damage the workplace or work equipment or occupational disease or a danger related to occupational health and safety, to determine the measures to be taken with a report and to submit it to the employer or his representative,

– Planning occupational health and safety training in the workplace in Turkey, preparing and submitting programmes for approval, monitoring the implementation of these programmes and providing feedback in case of deficiencies,

– Planning the necessary safety measures in maintenance and repair work to be carried out in the workplace and controlling the implementation of these measures,

– Monitoring the adequacy of the measures taken for fire, natural disasters, sabotage and similar hazards in the workplace and the work of the teams,

– Monitoring the adequacy of the measures taken for fire, natural disasters, sabotage and similar hazards in the workplace and the work of the teams,

– Preparing an annual report on the occupational health and safety situation of the workplace, evaluating the work of that year, evaluating and determining the issues to be included in the work programme of the following year according to the experience gained and making a proposal to the employer,

– 6331 numbered Occupational Health and Safety Law No. 13. Article 13 of the right in Turkey to refrain from working specified in the right to refrain from working urgently convene and make a decision. The decision taken at the meeting will be notified in writing to the employee and the employee representative.

– It is equipped with the duties and powers to carry out studies to develop a consistent and general prevention policy covering the effects of factors related to technology, work organisation, working conditions, social relations and the working environment in the workplace.

The members of the Board shall not be restricted in their rights or be subjected to bad behavior or treatment due to the performance of the duties assigned to them by the Regulation.

The working methods of the Board are also defined in Article 9 of the regulation. According to the article, the Board has to work in an order that envisages examination, monitoring and warning and by taking the following principles into consideration:

– The Board shall convene at least once a month. Taking into account the hazard class of the workplace, it may also decide to set this period as two months for hazardous workplaces and three months for less hazardous workplaces.

– The agenda, place, day and time of the meeting shall be notified to the board members at least forty-eight hours before the meeting. The agenda will be determined according to the importance of the problems and projects related to occupational health and safety, if any. Board members may request a change in the agenda if they wish.

– In cases of death, loss of limbs or severe occupational accidents or in important cases requiring a special measure, any member of the board has the right to call the board for an extraordinary meeting. Proposals in this regard must be made to the chairman or secretary of the board.

– Board meetings will be held during daily working hours and these periods will be counted as working time.

– The Board will convene under the chairmanship of the employer or his/her representative with the absolute majority of the total number of members and decisions will be taken with the absolute majority of the participants. No vote shall be cast in case of a draw. In case of equality of votes, the chairman’s vote will determine the decision.

– A minute containing the decisions taken on the issues discussed at each meeting must be prepared. The minutes will be signed by the chairman and members attending the meeting. The signed decisions shall be deemed to have been notified to the employer without any further action.

The signed minutes and decisions will be kept in the special file of the board.

– The decisions taken at the meeting will be announced to the relevant persons for necessary action. Additionally, the issues deemed useful to be announced to the employees will also be announced in the workplace.

– At each meeting, the chairman or the secretary of the board will give the necessary information about the decisions and related practices of the previous meeting and then the agenda will be started.

According to the same article, the decisions announced by the board in the workplace according to these working procedures will be binding on employers and employees.

Article 10 of the Regulation sets out the general obligations of the employer or his/her representative towards the occupational health and safety committee in Turkey. The employer or his/her representative is obliged to provide the necessary meeting place, tools and equipment for the committee. The minutes of the meetings prepared by the committee, the investigation reports of accidents or other incidents and the reports of the committee on the results of the inspections carried out by the committee in the workplace shall be kept in the workplace to enable the labour inspectors to examine them.

The obligations of the occupational health and safety committee are also regulated in Article 11 of the Regulation. The committees shall take into account the situation of the workplace and the possibilities of the employer in their proposals, suggestions and decisions. Board members are obliged to keep confidential what they see and learn about the construction and production techniques, trade secrets and economic conditions of the workplace due to their duties. Furthermore, the committees are obliged to facilitate and assist the labour inspectors of the Ministry, who are authorized to conduct inspections in terms of occupational health and safety in Turkey, in their inspections and examinations at the workplaces.

Article 12 of the Regulation includes the obligations of employees. According to Article 12, employees are obliged to comply with the rules, prohibitions, decisions and measures taken by the occupational health and safety committees in order to protect and improve health and safety in general. Employees are required to co-operate with the committees in determining and implementing occupational health and safety measures at the workplace and in complying with the measures taken. Finally, it is also obligatory for employees to inform the board through the employee representative about the decisions taken by the rules or the difficulties they encounter in practice.