Prosecution rejected for inspectors who gave ‘perfect score’ to Soma mine before disaster
İsmail Saymaz ISTANBULTurkey's Labor Ministry has not granted permission for the prosecution of inspectors who gave a perfect score to the Soma mine facility two months before 301 of its workers were killed in a deadly accident.
The rejection followed a preliminary survey report approved by Labor Minister Faruk Çelik, prepared as part of a probe into the 12 inspectors working for the ministry and Kasım Özer, the head of the Work Health and Safety Department.
The 23-page report cleared all accusations against the inspectors, stating that “a labor inspection cannot give a guarantee for even one minute, even in a workplace that receives a perfect score.”
Remarkably, the death of another inspector in June during a separate mine inspection was put forward as an example in the report, which said the incident proved that inspections were "not able to protect even the inspector from a labor accident."
The duty of labor inspectors is to monitor, audit and examine in the name of the state whether the regulations are properly followed, the report said, adding that not detecting missing security measures does not mean the inspectors did not do their jobs.
“Inspections do not eliminate labor accidents or occupational diseases, but are conducted to guide employers in taking measures,” the report also stated. "In light of this understanding, it is as meaningless to accuse inspectors as it is to blame traffic police for accidents or security officers for crime."
The inspections do not erase the responsibility of the employer, the ministry inspectors who prepared the preliminary report also underlined.
The report also did not find the inspectors responsible for claims that Soma Mine Company prepared the facility in advance of the examination and covered up its deficiencies.
“It cannot be asserted that the inspectors should have seen the deficiencies hidden by the company with a heavenly skill,” it said.
The report also responded to claims that the inspectors did not enter the mine to determine its conditions, saying the possibility of every worker being met by the officers was very low as they were working in three shifts throughout the day.
“That might be why some workers said that they had not seen the inspectors,” the report said.