In Turkey, during the early 1980’s, occupational health and safety services were still quite insufficient.
In 1982, the “Regulation on Working Conditions, Obligations and Authority of Occupational Physicians” had just been issued although it was not implemented fully and had to contend with the opposition of employers’ union. The Turkish Medical Association was concerned with only theoretical issue of occupational health and safety and at that time, there was no common health unit constituted among job-sites employing less than 50 workers. However, those small scale enterprises often have the worst working conditions.
An occupational health and safety council is a must for employing more than 50 workers, legally. Members also included occupational physician, occupational safety engineer (or expert) and social consultant. However, neither the doctors nor the safety engineers had sufficient education in he 80’s with regard to this subject and had no coordination and communication with each other in spite of being in the same council. Moreover, neither gave importance to preventive measures. Their focus was only on treating the disease or accident. Another weakness of these councils has continued until today. It is about a “social consultant” being a member of the council. Although according to the related regulation it is a must; in practice, employees in charge of personnel department of human resources department become members and are ineffective in meeting the needs of general employees.
As a result, it can be said that until 1990’s, in Turkey, occupational health and safety was not developed much.
FİŞEK MODEL’s Contribution to Occupational Health and Safety in Small Scale Job-Sites
The Fişek Model has targeted to decrease all of the above negativity, given priority to team work and selected small and middle scale enterprises for its field of study. Fişek Institute’s (Est., 1986) preparation period began in 1982. Service studies were initiated on the idea “to make periodical health checks and pre-occupational medical examinations” and reached 156 job-sites from 5 job-sites in four years time. These job-sites were regularly visited for certain periods. In this period, positive communication was established with both employers and employees primarily as a result of the physician giving the health examinations as he is an experienced occupational health expert. This communication also created permission for additional scientific research in those job-sites. Thus, first research having a scope about child labor in Turkey was made in 1984-86 (Children’s Medical-Social Problems Research) in the framework of MEAwards. Again in this period, research about “Special Health Risks o Working Children” was carried out for WHO (World Health Organization). Soon these studies grew encompassing and necessitated the establishment of the “Fişek Private Health Services and Research Institute”.