10 November 2020
Occupational Health and Safety Responsibilities of Non-Governmental Organizations
Occupational health and safety requirements are often neglected during compliance processes that are carried out for employees to operate in accordance with the Labor Law and other legislation on employment. The reason for this is that most non-governmental organizations assume that occupational health and safety legislation may not be applicable to them. However, this assumption is generally incorrect.
Non-governmental organizations which employ are obligated fulfill their duty of care and protect their employees. The duty of care includes avoiding instances that could constitute harm to employees as well as protecting employees from and assisting employees to protect themselves from such instances. The most important obligation under this duty is to ensure occupational health and safety.
Workplaces That Are Subjected to Occupational Health and Safety Legislation
The Occupational Health and Safety Law numbered 6331 has brought several responsibilities and obligations to employers with respect to measures which should be taken in the workplace. According to occupational health and safety legislation, workplaces have been classified according to the number of employees and hazard classes. While the legislation defines more elementary obligations for workplaces with less than 50 employees and classified as less dangerous, the scope of occupational health and safety measures to be taken at workplaces will expand with the increase of the hazard class or the number of employees.
However, it should not have forgotten that all workplaces must satisfy the minimum obligations under the legislation regardless of the hazard class or the number of employees. These include workplaces which are classified as offices, which are determined as a workplace within the scope of the relevant legislation. Employers that do not satisfy the obligations under the legislation may face criminal prosecution in the event of a work accident.
Minimum Occupational Health and Safety Obligations of Non-Governmental Organizations
According to the occupational health and safety legislation, all employers should fulfill required obligations, regardless of the hazard classes, number of employees or field of activity. Therefore, if the organization has even 1 employee it will be subject to these obligations.
Specifying risks in the workplace is one of the fundamental obligations regarding occupational health and safety. Risk analysis enables operating in a more protected environment by identifying and eliminating possible threats in the work environment.
Emergency Action Plan
All employers should classify emergencies that may occur in the workplace and prepare an emergency action plan specific to these emergencies. These emergency action plans should be shared with the employees.
Training of Employees
Regardless of the hazard class, occupational health and safety training should be provided in all workplaces, emergency action plans should be explained in this training. The obligations of employees should be included in this training.
Retain Workplace Doctors and Occupational Health and Safety Expert
The obligation to retain workplace doctors and occupational health and safety expert is a requirement that is gradually brought to workplaces according to their hazard classes and the number of employees. Accordingly, workplace doctors and occupational health and safety expert must be retained for workplaces with are classified as “dangerous” or “more dangerous” with more than 50 employees. In terms of less dangerous workplaces (such as offices) with less than 50 employees, the deadline of these obligations has been postponed to December 31, 2023.
Occupational health and safety measures should be evaluated individually for each workplace. Different measures may be required specific to the conditions of the workplace. For instance, obtaining a safety report for dangerous workplaces or determining a major accident prevention policy in terms of very dangerous workplaces will be evaluated within this scope. Measures that have to be taken concerning occupational health and safety are not limited in the legislation. The employer is responsible for taking the required measures to ensure safety in the workplace, apart from the minimum obligations.
There are service providers which assist workplaces in fulfilling the obligations specified in the legislation. These obligations may be fulfilled with the assistance of companies approved by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security. You may find the list of companies here.
Moreover, in workplaces with less than 50 employees and/or less dangerous workplaces, employers that have completed the occupational health and safety training given by the Ministry of Family, Labor, and Social Services can prepare risk analysis reports and emergency action plan themselves.
Non-governmental organizations are also subjected to the obligations stipulated in the occupational health and safety legislation in their capacity as an employer. Failure to comply with the minimum obligations may result in administrative fines or criminal proceedings in case of an accident at the workplace. In this context, the fulfillment of the fundamental obligations specified in the legislation by non-governmental organizations has great importance.