Experts cite lack of safety equipment in workers’ death at third bridge construction site
Three were killed and eight workers were injured last April after falling 50 meters, while constructing a viaduct for a highway that will connect to the city’s disputed new bridge over the Bosporus. DHA PhotoAn expert examination into the death of three workers in an accident at the construction site of Istanbul’s controversial third bridge has cited a lack of security equipment as a key cause, citing 11 responsible senior managers and supervisors.
Three were killed and eight workers were injured last April after falling 50 meters, while constructing a viaduct for a highway that will connect to the city’s disputed new bridge over the Bosporus.
In their report, the experts underlined basic organizational and operational shortcomings regarding workers’ security, in a project touted by the government as a major showcase of the country’s economic status.
The report said workers had been the victims of “poorly built steel scaffolding,” stressing that the use of body belts would have prevented their deaths. It also accused all managers and the companies involved in the construction process of failing to monitor and adopt necessary safety precautions reducing the risks of similar accidents.
Based on witnesses testimony, experts indicated that managers at the site had been told by their superiors to accelerate the construction process at the cost of worker security.
The consortium ICA-İçtaş-Astaldi, which is building the Northern Marmara Highway that will connect to the bridge, has not assigned a site health and safety coordinator to monitor the security of workers, according to the report.
In addition to this shortcoming, the report highlighted that two site managers employed by the subcontractor company Ongun Yapı were geology engineers, when at least one of them should have been a construction engineer.
It added that the site was not properly lit for night work, stressing that even the search for bodies was conducted with the lights of construction vehicles.
The 11 managers cited in the report as responsible include the ICA company’s project coordinator, Mustafa Cılız, accused of failing to monitor the site; managers of the subcontracting company, including site manager Özür Vatan and work safety expert Gülenden Kara, for not providing body belts; and the personnel of the scaffolding company, URTİM.
Ministry also at fault
The report also stated that inspectors at the Labor and Social Security Ministry were at fault for failing to monitor all subcontractors at the site.
Experts denounced the fact that although the site was monitored in December 2013 by ministry inspectors, Ongun Yapı was not among the scrutinized subcontractors.
The report also demanded that job safety specialists work independently of construction companies, stressing that in the current context employees are unable to file a complaint against the company that pays their wages.
A fourth worker died recently in the construction site of the same bridge, but work is continuing despite the controversy and unsatisfying environmental impact reports. Activists have repeatedly denounced that the highway built for the bridge will cause the destruction of huge swaths of forest in the northern Istanbul.
The name of the bridge, Yavuz Sultan Selim, has also drawn criticism, as the 16th century Ottoman sultan was known for his aggressive military campaigns against Alevis.