I would like to inform that the Occupational Health and Safety Law (Law No: 6331) (published in the Official Gazette dated June 30, 2012 and numbered 28339) (the “OHS Law”) regulates the duties, responsibilities, rights and obligations of both the employer and the employees with a view to ensure occupational health and safety (“OHS”) within all public and private workplaces.
As per Article 4 of the Law, an employer has a general obligation to ensure work health and safety and is in this respect required to take certain precautions to such effect. For the purposes of this Law, employer representatives who act on behalf of the employer shall also be considered as the employer.
In observance of such general OHS obligations, certain mechanisms are introduced by the OHS Law, as summarized below:
1.Workplace Doctor and Occupational Safety Expert
Please note that as per Article 6 of the OHS Law, employers are required to appoint occupational safety expert, workplace doctor and other health personnel from amongst its employees. In case there is no personnel who have the stipulated qualifications, whole or part of such service may be carried out through common health and safety units authorized by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security (the “Ministry”). On the other hand, if the employer possesses the required qualifications and the necessary certificate, it may undertake the performance of such OHS services itself depending on the number of employees and the class of hazard. Please note that where a full-time workplace doctor is employed in a workplace, employment of other health personnel is not mandatory. Also, in the event the workplace doctor or occupational safety expert is required to be employed on a full time basis due to the determined working period, the employer shall establish a workplace health and safety unit.
Please note that there is no threshold for the application of the above-mentioned workplace doctor/expert obligation, and is applicable to all employers falling within the scope of the OHS Law. Duties, authorities and liabilities of workplace doctors and experts are further regulated under Article 8 of the OHS Law, and further information may be provided upon your request in this respect.
2.Support for OHS services
As per Article 7 of the OHS Law, the Ministry may provide support to employers for the implementation of the OHS services based on the following conditions:
•Workplaces having less than ten employees and which are classified as hazardous and very hazardous, may benefit from the support of the Ministry. Workplaces having less than ten employees and which are classified as less hazardous workplaces may also benefit from such support upon an affirmative decision of the Ministry.
•Employers, who are detected to not have reported their employees to the Social Security Institution, shall not be able to benefit from such financial support for a period of 3 years, and all support provided up to the time of such detection shall be collected by the Social Security Institution together with the applicable interest.
3.Determination of Hazard Classes
Please note that for the purposes of the abovementioned obligations of employers, as per Article 9 of the OHS Law, hazard classes of workplaces are determined by the Ministry through a communiqué taking also into account the type of work carried out within the workplace. In general, there are three types of classes: less hazardous, hazardous and very hazardous workplaces. Please note that no new communiqué has been issued yet. Thus, in the absence of a new secondary legislation, based on the provisions Communiqué regarding the Hazard Classification (published in the Official Gazette dated November 25, 2009 and numbered 27417), financial institutions are regarded as less hazardous workplaces.
4.Risk Assessment by the Employer
As per Article 10 of the OHS Law, employers are required to make or cause to be made a risk assessment for the workplace with a view to determine the precautions and protective equipment required for ensuring the OHS within the workplace. The details of the principles and procedures to be applicable in determination of hazard classes and implementation of risk assessments shall be further regulated by secondary legislations to be issued by the Ministry.
5.Emergency Plans, Fire Fighting and First Aid
As per Article 11 of the OHS Law, employers are required to determine emergency plans, firefighting and first aid, and take all necessary precautions with respect thereto.
6.Reporting of Work Accidents and Occupational Sickness
As per Article 14 of the OHS Law, the employers are also under an obligation to prepare reports on the work accidents and occupational sickness and report the same to the Social Security Institution in accordance with the provisions of the said Law.
Please be informed that as per Article 15 of the OHS Law, employers are required to provide medical examinations for their employees upon (i) commencement of employment, (ii) change of work, (iii) return to work after a workplace accident, occupational sickness or other health problems, if requested, and (ii) regular intervals as determined by the Ministry based on the nature of the work and the employees and the hazard classification of the workplace.
8.Information and Training of Employees
Please note that as per Article 16 of the OHS Law, employers are required to inform employees on the health and safety risks within the workplace, precautions to be taken against the same, rights and obligations of such employees and the persons in charge of first aid, extraordinary circumstances, disasters, fire-fighting and evacuation procedures. Also, as per Article 17 of the OHS Law, employers are required to provide OHS training to employees upon commencement of work, change of work or workplace or the work equipment or application of a new technology, and to those employees who have been away from work for more than 6 months for any reason and returned to work thereafter. Such trainings shall be revised in line with new risks and repeated in regular intervals. In this respect, employee representatives are specially trained. Furthermore, costs of such training shall not be reflected on the employees’ salaries and training time shall be considered within working hours and in case such training exceeds the weekly working hours, it shall be considered as overtime.
Pursuant to Article 20 of the OHS, taking into account the risks within the various sections of the workplace and the number of employees, employers are required to appoint employee representatives through an election among the employees or if not possible, by way of appointment. For workplaces with two to fifty employees, the number of employee representatives is determined as one in the said Law. Such employee representatives shall be authorized to make suggestions to and request from the employer to take the necessary precaution within the workplace in order to avoid any dangers and risks therein. Article 18 also provides that employers shall facilitate the participation of employees and employee representatives with respect to OHS matters within the workplace and obtain their views thereon.
Please further note that, for workplaces with less than 50 employees and which fall within the less hazardous workplace category, the effective date of Articles 6, 7 and 8 relating to workplace doctors and occupational safety experts shall be 2 years from the date on which the OHS Law is published in the Official Gazette, i.e. June 30, 2014. On the other hand, Articles 9, 31, 33, 34, 35, 36 and 38 as well as temporary articles 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 inci shall enter nto force on the date on which the OHS Law is published in the Official Gazette whereas all other provisons of the same shall enter into force within 6 months of the date on which the OHS Law is published in the Official Gazette.
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