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Turkey introduces financial penalties, prison terms for workplace accidents

By Ozge Ozbilgin

ANKARA (Reuters) — Turkey has tightened work safety regulations and introduced tougher penalties for breaches, including banning companies from public tenders, six months after the country's worst industrial accident.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced measures ranging from financial penalties to prison terms for those found liable in fatal workplace accidents, in an effort to improve one of the world's worst workplace safety records.

Protests against lax safety standards erupted in several cities in May after a coal mine disaster killed 301 workers in the western town of Soma. Turkey has seen rapid economic development over the past decade but worker safety has not kept pace. Hundreds of labourers die every year.

"Companies will be banned from public tenders for two years if convicted for liability in a fatal accident in the workplace," Davutoglu told a press conference in Ankara.

A Turkish court detained five people pending trial late on Nov. 10 as part of an investigation into the flooding two weeks ago of a mine in the southern town of Ermenek, where two people died and 16 workers remain trapped.

Those held included the mine's owner and managers.

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