Worker movements played a crucial role in making workplaces safer. Workplace safety is costly for firms but increases labour supply. A laissez-faire approach leaving safety of workplaces unknown is suboptimal. Safety standards set by better-informed trade unions are output and welfare increasing. Trade between a country with trade unions (the North) and a union-free country (the South) can imply a reduction in work standards in the North. When trade unions are established in the South, the North, including northern unions, tend to lose. Quantitatively, these effects are small and overcompensated by gains in the South.
Occupational health and safety trade unions international trade welfare