Handicaps Owing to Occupational Disease and Accidents and the Action of Three Social Security Institutions

By Prof. Dr. A. Gurhan Fisek

The social security system of Turkey has an unintegrated character; and this causes it to be an inadequate and unsystematised source of assurance.

However, this assurance appears as a precondition for individuals in order to steer their notice into the social axis rather than the individual one. Leaving aside some exceptional cases, the instances we remark confirm this as well.

Concerning occupational health and safety issues, we have asserted the importance of group-based solutions (and the impossibility of the contrary) for many times. Yet, this discourse can only be transformed into an action or a way of life only if a social assurance is provided accordingly.

Regrettably, varying approach and standards lead the ways of behaving of individuals to be varied accordingly in response to dangers and/or their possibility to occur.

First of all, let’s run an eye over the standards of three social security institutions comprehending 81 % of all citizens in Turkey. These institutions are the Retirement Trust, the Social Insurance Institution (SII) and Bag-Kur (Social Insurance Institution for the Self-Employed). These institutions are classified according to different economic activities of individuals; besides, they embrace the ones whom these individuals are obliged to look after. Roughly,

  • The Retirement Trust embraces public servants;
  • The Social Insurance Institution, regularly salaried employees;
  • And Bag-Kur, self-employed persons (including tradesmen and petty-artisans).

Each and every economic activity give a birth to various occupational risks that are the resultant of this particular activity. Nevertheless, when we probe these three giant social security systems, we observe that they approach to this problem with disparate norms separately. While Bag-Kur does not even take such risks into account, the Retirement Trust only focuses on occupational accidents, and discards occupational diseases. On the other hand, SII has been established through a legal arrangement that would allow occupational disease and accidents to be prevented.


The system is treated under the scope of Job Disabilities. Veteran Disability, as well, should be regarded as an occupational risk considering the jobholders choosing this as a profession (officers, non-commissioned officers). A person’s disability can be treated under the scope of job disabilities, only if disability occurs;

  • due to the job of a person and during the performance of this job;
  • during the performance of a job, that is different from persons’ ordinary jobs, yet that is related to and assigned by the institution;
  • due to a job that is performed in order to protect the advantages of the institution;
  • at workplaces like factory, workshop and etc., and if, occurs before-during and after an occupation and due to an accident resultant of the quality of workplace or job.

However these provisions are complied to, job disabilities are not accepted, if a person has

  • taken an intoxicant substance;
  • behaved illegally;
  • attempted to commit suicide;
  • acted in order to get something out of this situation for both his/her self and his/her family.

There are not any “dissuasive” application available in order to prevent the recurrence of these dangers and of the efforts to understand whether the accidents occurred due to the faults of an institution. The statistics of the Retirement Trust, on the other hand, do not provide any guiding data, except for total numbers, because these cases are not investigated in detail.


  • Occupational accidents have been defined in the law in detail; and as in the case of the Retirement Trust, compensation opportunities have been provided without the requirement by which employees are covered by seniority system.
  • Occupational diseases have been defined roughly; as in the case of discrepancies, their investigation-comparison have been bound to a long-rage process; and in order to be extracted from the list, an objection channel has been opened in order to be submitted to the Health Commission.
  • The provision that employers are held responsible in the case of occupational disease and accidents has been stated both in the Labour Law (Article. 73) and in the Social Insurance Law (Article 26, according to which only employers are held responsible for paying premiums and to which implied indemnity has been brought forth).
  • Concerning the prevention of the occurrence of occupational disease and accidents, persuasive measures have been put forth for employers to apply them.


Not available.

Additionally, for the cases which are defined in the Law of the Retirement Trust as “ordinary” disability and which occur during the first five years of insurance, there is no social assurance mechanism available. On the other hand, tradesmen and petty-artisans work, during the first years of their profession, in a self-sacrificing way including exhausting bodily works in general. Therefore, occupational risks are at the maximum.

Various different implementations make occupational risks to be extensive in scope, to which jobholders are exposed. Among these implementations, contractual personnel service can be counted in addition to the condition through which civil-service post includes the ones whose bodily works come first compared with intellectual labour. Besides, advanced technology has intensified the dangers to which jobholders in various sectors are exposed. For instance, at hospitals, jobholders that are among the participants of the Retirement Trust (physicians, nurses, laboratory assistants, x-ray technicians, and etc.) are subject to various occupational risks, particularly about contagious diseases, anaesthetic substances and x-rays.

On the other side, tradesmen and petty-artisans are already defined under the scope of small-scale entrepreneurial facilities which cover self-employed persons working together with their workers. This proves the fact that small-scale entrepreneurs that are treated under the scope of Bag-Kur are also subject to the same occupational risks as their workers are subject to in the same working environment. However, it is strange that occupational risks are not even discussed in the related social insurance system.

In the context of the Social Insurance Law, various occupational risks are addressed; yet, accompanying labour laws are far from keeping in step with the developments in the international standards regarding these risks and from becoming meticulous on the implementation of the provisions mentioned in the related laws. Evidently, this reduces the dissuasive nature of the Social Insurance Law; increases the occurrence of occupational disease and accidents; and hence, increases the burdens loaded over the Institution and insured persons.

The most evident indicator of tendentious differences between these three giant social security systems is the varying inclinations and demands of the occupational (economic struggle) organisations formed by the economic activity groups comprehended by these three institutions. Chambers of tradesmen and artisans, of engineers and architects, health unions and civil service unions do not put occupational health and safety of their members on their own agenda. At the same time, these are reserved a limited place on the agenda of the labour unions, and are not considered as a precedential and transforming element in the collective agreements.

The corresponding tendencies of social security institutions and professional organisations formed by individuals taking place under the scope of these institutions attest to an explanation on why these implementations have shown a little progress during all these years.

This doesn’t come to mean that there is not any such problem; rather, presents a picture in which these problems and necessities are not acknowledged. It is also a picture representing that society does not deserve these at all, although it is not conscious about the solutions. Here, what lies behind the problem is the ones who ignore, though notice, the dilemma, and who do not notify people about it with a proper language, though aware of it.