In our country, need for occupational health and safety emerged because of existance of coal mining like other countries.First regulations in this field was Dilaver Paşa Regulation (1865) and Maaddin Regulation (1869). Despite of war, in 1921 Grand National Assembly of Turkey enacted the law about mining workers. With article 180 of Public Hygiene Law (1930) workplaces which have 50 and more workers had been become obligatory for medical doctor employment.
Regulations related to that subject had continued with the Labor Law numbered 3008 enacted in 1936. After that, the changes made in 1974 continued till 2003. In this long period of time, present regulation failed to satify the needs of improving and changing technology.The Labor Law numbered 4857 enacted in the second half of 2003 have brought a new perspective to the field of occupational health and safety.
Turkey’s relationship with ILO has been going on since 1927. Turkey participated ILO studies with observer status from 1927 to 1932 when it wasn’t a member of nations league. Turkey won the membership to ILO when it became a member of nations league in 1932. So turkey has been participating to ILO studies as a member country since 1932. When Turkey became a member to ILO, Ministry of Labour wasn’t established yet. Studies for work life was conducted by Ministry of Economics and after the membership to ILO a Labour Office was established under Ministry of Economics.
Directorate General of Labour Health has been established as a main service unit since the establishment of the Ministry of Labor in 1945.
Ministry of Labor sent three young employees who was selected by exam abroad in order to train about working life. Dr. İsmail Topuzoğlu was one of them who had worked about occupational health between 1947 – 1951 in United State of America. He did a lot for the establishment of ISGUM after returning Turkey.
In 1968 an ILO expert supported the Ocupational Health Center for establishment with funding from ILO United Nations Development Assistance Special Fund.
In the end of negotiations, within the scope of Program for the Introduction and Adaptation of Contraceptive Technology (PIACT); “Labour Health and Safety Special Fund Project Pre-Employment Agreement” was signed between the Government of the Republic of Turkey, The United Nations Development Programme and ILO representatives in 1968. Along with the endorsement of the aggrement, Labour Health and Occupational Safety Center (ISGUM) was established under the Directorate General of Labour Health with number 6/11568 of 26 March 1969 decision of Council of Ministers.
At first ISGUM had started working in a small apartment in İzmir Street which is not proper for laboratory. In this period ISGUM was a very busy head office affiliated to undersecretary.
Laboratories in five cities (Zonguldak, İstanbul, İzmir, Adana ve Kayseri) had been tried to develop after their establishments. But in 2000, the laboratories had lost service performance and staff motivation because of lack of technology and human resources.
Because of changes and improvements in the field of occupational health and safety after harmonization of the EU acquis in recent years, a new approach based on risk management that requires employers to make more examination and research has been adopted.
Public and private laboratories serving in the field of occupational health and safety was limited in number in Turkey. And workplaces (particularly small and medium-sized businesses) needed support of government for measurements to be made at the workplace and chemical analysis and processes to be carried out in the laboratories more than ever. In this period, increasing the number of existing laboratories and providing mobile laboratory support was aimed to spread occupational health and safety servicings throughout the country. For this purpose two major EU projects supported by the Directorate General for Occupational Health and Safety has been realized. One was “Project For Strengthening of the Occupational Health and Safety in Turkey-ISAG” from 2004 to 2006 and second was “Project for setting up of Mobile Work Health Vehicles - ISAG II” from 2007 to 2009. ISGUM laboratories have obtained the technical infrastructure for occupational health and safety measurements in workplaces and health examinations of employees. Education need of ISGUM staff for the new OHS approach was supplied with this projects.