There are considerable differences among Iranian companies regarding OHS performance, even within sectors, and some have implemented rigorous OHS procedures. There are also Iranian state agencies and research centers that have indicated a growing willingness to support better OHS efforts and hold foreign companies accountable to their OHS obligations.
Nevertheless, work-related accidents resulting in death in Iran in 2014 occurred at a rate more than eight times the world average according to statistics released by Iran’s Legal Medicine Organization (ILMO), and the trend lines are poor: workplace deaths nearly tripled from 2004 to 2014, with early 2016-2017 data showing a 10% increase in fatal accidents over the preceding year.
The 1,891 workplace deaths in Iran reported by the ILMO in a 12-month period over 2014-2015, itself an under-reported figure, represents a rate many times higher than that in EU countries, even in the least developed Eastern European and Balkan members. Iran’s work fatalities have also long exceeded Turkey’s by hundreds per year, a regional neighbour of comparable development and labour force size, up until a recent spike in Turkish workplace deaths.
Fatal accidents in Iran occur primarily in the construction industry (accounting for some 60% of all workplace deaths according to recent statements by Iranian officials) and, secondly, in the mining sector. Rates for all types of workplace accidents are highest in the basic metals, electrical and nonelectrical machines, and construction industries. Falling from heights and crush injuries were the most common accidents (with the accident rate dramatically higher for workers in the 15-24 year age range), and prevalent occupational-related diseases include musculoskeletal disorders, respiratory disorders and noise-induced hearing loss. Iranian studies have also detailed substandard OHS conditions in the petroleum (especially drilling), food and beverage, automotive, and pharmaceutical sectors, among others.
A high proportion of Iranians work without insurance, in violation of Iranian law and international standards that workers be covered. Based on official Iranian government reports, at least one third of Iranian employees are not insured at all. Of the two thirds, many are self-insured and thus significantly underinsured.
Lack of insurance results in workers and employers not reporting—or receiving any treatment or compensation for—workplace accidents or illness, and in OHS violations left unchecked.
The lack of insurance arises largely from the roughly 90% of Iranian workers who are employed under temporary contracts. While insurance is required under these contracts, this is not enforced and thus often not provided. The lack of job security under them (as well as high levels of un- and under-employment) makes workers unlikely to demand insurance (or make OHS complaints).
In addition, under Iranian labour law, workplaces with less than 10 employees are exempt from the requirement to offer insurance, and such enterprises may represent as many as 50% of Iranian workplaces. One out of three Iranian workers are also estimated to be working in the unregistered and unregulated informal economy.
For more detailed information on the issues in this briefing, please contact IBR project at firstname.lastname@example.org.