Turkey: Over 1,800 agricultural workers killed in work accidents in the last decade

Turkey: Over 1,800 agricultural workers killed in work accidents in the last decade
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Over the past decade, a shocking 1,803 agricultural workers have lost their lives in work-related accidents, with the leading causes being traffic and transportation mishaps, according to a report by the Workers' Health and Safety Council.

A staggering 1,803 agricultural workers have tragically lost their lives in work-related accidents over the past ten years in Turkey, the Workers' Health and Safety Council (ISIG) revealed on Thursday. ISIG calls the incidents “workplace murders,” shedding light on the alarming safety concerns of workers in Turkey.

The report, which underscores the need for urgent action and reforms, points out that the primary culprits behind these devastating fatalities are traffic accidents and transportation mishaps. ISIG highlights a deeply concerning trend where workers are transported in unsuitable conditions, including enclosed trucks, tractor trailers, and overcrowded vehicles, ultimately putting their lives at risk.

The distressing statistics reveal a troubling pattern of escalating workplace fatalities:

In 2013, 122 workers lost their lives. In 2014, the toll rose to 140. 202 workers tragically died in 2015. 2016 saw 177 fatalities. 2017 recorded 154 lives lost. In 2018, the toll reached 184. 2019 witnessed 190 workers losing their lives. The year 2020 marked a tragic high with 215 fatalities. In 2021, 149 workers died. By 2022, the toll stood at 180. And in the first eight months of 2023, another 90 agricultural workers have already met with fatal accidents.

Breaking down the fatalities by job category, the İSİG Meclisi report reveals that 847 were seasonal agricultural laborers, 451 worked as shepherds or on livestock farms, 416 were involved in forestry work, and 89 were employed as paid fishermen.

The report cites traffic and transportation accidents as the leading causes of these fatalities, with workers being transported in unsuitable conditions such as enclosed trucks, tractor trailers, and overcrowded vehicles. Additionally, the report lists 24 traffic accidents in which at least four workers lost their lives.

Perhaps one of the most distressing findings of the İSİG Meclisi report is that 235 of the workers who lost their lives in work-related accidents over the past decade were children, constituting 13% of the total fatalities. Among these, 101 were child laborers aged 14 or younger, and 134 were young workers aged 15 to 17.

The report concludes by drawing attention to discrepancies between official statistics and the actual number of uninsured and vulnerable workers in the agricultural sector. It also emphasizes that the majority of unionized workers are those in permanent employment, particularly in the forestry sector.