THE CODE OF OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY, LAW NO.6331 AND EMPLOYERS’ OBLIGATIONSThe Code of Occupational Health and Safety Law No.6331 (hereafter it will be referred to as Law no 6331) has entered into force by publishing in the Official Gazette on 30 June 2012. The Law no.6331’s aims are; (i) interfere occupational accidents and occupational illnesses before they happen (ii) locate and remove risks while work is being done in the workplaces and/or prevent new risks before they happen. The public servants, employees, employers, apprentices, whole interns in the workplace, works and workplaces which belong to the public and private, every profession included agricultural professions etc. are subject to Law No 6331. However, Turkish Armed Forces (Türk Silahlı Kuvvetleri-hereafter it will be referred to as TSK), security, disaster prevention team, home services, self employed are not covered by the Law no 6331.
The Law no 6331 will enter into force; (i) after two years of its publication (on 1 July 2014) for public institutions and workplaces which have less than 50 employees, (ii) after one year of its publication (on 1 July 2013) for the workplaces which have less than 50 employees and defined as dangerous and virulent, (iii) after 6 months of its publication (on 1 January 2013) for other workplaces.
Work to be taken as a base for defining workplaces as danger status. There are three categories of danger are specified in the Law no 6331; (i) less dangerous, (ii) dangerous, (iii) virulent. According to article 9 of the Law no 6331 titled “specifying the danger status”; the danger statuses of the workplaces will be located by the Ministry’s Annunciation by considering the rate’s tariff of the short-run insurance branch specified by article 83 of the Social Security and General Health Insurance Law, Law no.5510 (dated 31 May 2006) and in line with the respective parties committee’s opinions, which established under the presidency of the General Director of the Occupational Health and Safety. In accordance with the article 9 of the Law no.6331, “the danger statuses of the workplaces” is published in the appendix of the Occupational Health and Safety Annunciation in the Official Gazette dated 26 December 2012 and numbered 28509. “The danger statuses of the workplaces” will be specified according to the list which is in the mentioned Annunciation.
It is regulated that especially in the articles 6-7 and 8 of the Law no 6331 that every workplace needs an occupational safety expert and an occupational physician. It does not matter the specification of the danger status of the workplaces. The workplace can have these services in partially or completely from the common health and safety units, if it does not have any of these experts within its workers. However, by considering the number of employees and the danger status of the workplace, the workplace can have the mentioned services on its own with the necessary qualifications and documents.
According to the article 6 of the Law no 6331, employers will provide cooperation and coordination between the people who run the health and safety services in the workplace for the services which include prevention and protection of the occupational risks. The workplaces which have full time occupational physician, it is not compulsory to have other health employees.
It is compulsory to evaluate the danger status for every workplace by not considering its danger status of the workplaces. Thus, it is aimed that the employer will specify the dangers which will affect his workers health and safety, and provide the necessary protections for them. Due to that aim; employers are obligated to have an A class occupational physician and a safety expert in their virulent work, a B class occupational physician and a safety expert in their dangerous works and a C class occupational physician and a safety expert in their less dangerous work by considering the danger status of their workplaces.
Employers are obligated to perform medical screening for all employees. According to the article 15 of the Law no 6331, it is an obligation to perform medical screening by considering the work, the quality of employees and the danger status of the workplace in accordance with the Ministry’s specification of times when (i) a new person start to work as an employee, (ii) any job changes happen, (iii) any occupational accident occurs, (iv) any occupational illnesses occur, (v) any situation of repeated removal from work occurs, if it is claimed. The employers, who are run the works specified as dangerous and virulent, are obligated to claim a health certificate from new employees before they start to work.
In this new Law no 6331 period, it is aimed to keep record of occupational accidents and occupational illnesses in an updated and effective way. For this reason, it is compulsory for employers to inform the Social Security Institution (Sosyal Güvenlik Kurumu-hereafter it will be referred to as SGK) (i) after one week day of the occupational accident happened, (ii) after three weekdays of the occupational illness learned. The pre-diagnosis of occupational illness incidents, which is specified by an occupational physician or any other medical stuff, will be leaded to the medical services authorized by the SGK. The occupational accidents which are devolved to the health care organization and the occupational illnesses which are diagnosed by any healthcare organization should be informed to the SGK in ten days at latest. Moreover, employer is obliged to record the occupational accidents’ (without causing any injury or death) causes which have not happened yet in the workplace. Thus, it is aimed to reduce the growing number of occupational accidents and to record any occupational accidents happened.
Whole employers should prepare an emergency plan beforehand for; (i) first aid, (ii) firefighting, (iii) evacuation of people, (iv) the situations of serious and close danger. Moreover, employer also should prepare trainings and demonstrations with participation of all employees. Employers are obliged to communicate with the other organizations in regard to; (i) first aid, (ii) emergency medical intervention, (iii) emergency salvation and (iv) firefighting.
Employer should inform all employees about occupational health and safety and employees’ rights and liabilities in the work life. Employees should be educated regularly in regard to; (i) job changes, (ii) workplace changes, (iii) distanced from work in a long period of time, (v) new working conditions after used equipment changes. Employer, who runs a dangerous or virulent works, is obliged to ask to employees’ vocational education certificates. Employees who do not have such certificate should not be worked in this work.
The occupational health and safety committee should be established, if there are 50 or more employees in the workplace and work is being done at least for 6 months. The employer is obliged to apply the occupational health and safety committee’s decisions which is compatible with the regulations.
If there is more than one employer in the same defined job type, the employers should inform each other in regard to occupational health and safety committee’s decisions, which will be affected to other employers too. If there are employees who are worked for a sub-employer, a commission should be established in coordination by the primary employer with participation of the sub-employer.
The legislator aimed to reduce health and safety problems in work life. We will see the positive and negative effects of the mentioned regulation in the following days.