In parallel with the changes observed in the world of work, the scope of occupational health and safety should be understood in a way that encompasses psychosocial risks. This necessity stems from the principle that occupational health and safety should be dealt with through a dynamic approach and finds itself a place in the national and international legal order. The scope of this thesis in terms of its subjects has been delimited to office workers. The reasons for this are both the specific importance that the issue poses for this class of workers and the fact that the initial reason why I developed an interest in the topic is the complaints of stress that I increasingly heard from people working within this category. The main purpose of the thesis is to discuss the psychosocial risk phenomenon with its legal dimension from the perspective of office workers and to identify the bases of the employers' civil liability from these risks in the context of the Turkish occupational health and safety law. Through these discussions and determination, it has been intended to contribute to change the perception on this issue and to show that there is an answer that can be provided by our legal system to a serious issue threatening public health. The psychosocial risk phenomenon is a concept that finds itself a place in the (especially foreign) literature today – although not to the required level of systematicity. The need for this matter to be handled from a legal point of view, as an issue that threatens the workers' health and therefore is of direct relevant to occupational health and safety, finds itself a basis in fundamental national and international legal rules, human rights and labour standards, starting with the Constitution. This necessity, which is grounded on mainly the rights to life, health and rest as envisaged in the Constitution, has found itself a place in standards accepted on the European Union level and within the labour standards of the ILO, starting with the Convention No. 155. At this point, it has been observed that especially the EU has conducted important studies with regards to defining and explaining the types of psychosocial risks and identifying the psychosocial hazards that cause them. ILO is conducting research on this topic with an increasing importance given to it as well. The awareness of these new risks caused by the modern working life constitutes an important aspect of the occupational health and safety law today. Despite that, and the fact that it has constitutional and legal bases, it is not possible to talk about a requisite level of awareness of this issue both from the workers' and the employers' side or to come across technical and legal studies, as far as I could observe. Therefore, after explaining the background of the topic and setting forth the legal grounds for it to be analyzed, the types of psychosocial risks have been examined by way of their classification in as much a law-related manner as possible. Accordingly, work-related stress, mobbing, violence and harassment are risks directly threatening occupational health and safety, as well as constituting an attack on the workers' personality rights. The thesis has mainly focused on showing the relation between these risks, and especially the relation between stress and other risks. These risks have many negative impacts on the health of workers, starting with cardiac and musculoskeletal diseases and psychological disorders. Due to the fact that the preventive aspect is more important than the compensatory aspect when it comes to examining psychosocial risks in the context of occupational health and safety, the employers' obligation to conduct a risk assessment becomes crucial. It is of special importance at this point to understand the relation and the difference between psychosocial risks and hazards. Psychosocial hazards are defined as workplace factors giving rise to psychosocial risks, and at the root of these hazards lie problems related to the organization of the workplace. In this context, although the need to assess psychosocial risks is an inseparable part of the occupational health and safety of office workers, it must be reminded once again that the problem of methodology as to how this assessment will be carried out needs to be resolved. As to the examination of the issue in the specific context of the Turkish occupational health and safety law, it is clear that psychosocial risks fall within the scope of the Turkish occupational health and safety law and give employers certain obligations, as well as certain rights to workers. Especially Sections 4 and 5 of the Law of Occupational Health and Safety, the regulations of the Labour Code on working time and the specific rules set forth by related Bylaws have proven that psychosocial risks have a place in Turkish law in addition to the Constitution. In this sense, the employers have to take all precautions necessary in order to prevent psychosocial risks and the harms caused thereby in accordance with their obligations set forth in Law No. 6331, starting with the obligation to conduct a risk assessment. In the case that the employers do not take the necessary precautions, their liability will come into play. The employers' liability must be examined carefully from the perspective of whether the necessary causal link between a psychosocial risk and the resulting harm can be identified. If an occupational accident or disease took place due to psychosocial risks, the employer's civil liability under occupational safety and health will arise; otherwise, the worker will be able to ask for damages under general rules of compensation in accordance with the specific circumstances of the case. Especially from the point of view of occupational accidents, establishing the causal link is the most important and problematic point, and it needs to be looked into carefully in a given dispute. In this context, although the research has shown that the Court of Cassation's approach to occupational accidents make it possible to hold the employers liable from harms caused by psychosocial risks, the principles established by the case-law of foreign courts, especially by the English courts, should be taken into consideration since they will be beneficial for the approach towards the issue to be enriched and strengthened on the case-law level. Lastly, trade unions and collective agreements, which in general have a great importance in establishing a culture of occupational health and safety, become crucial when it comes to increasing awareness of and fighting with psychosocial risks. Therefore, it is expected that trade unions conduct the necessary activities in this regard, mainly education, and that the collective agreements are drafted in such a content to encompass this matter and regulate the rights and obligations of the parties.
|Bidragets översatta titel
|Office Workers’ Occupational Safety and Health in the Context of Psychosocial Risks in Labour Law
|Published - 2020