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Regulating and inspecting working conditions could be good for both workers and business
  1. Fernando G Benavides1,2,
  2. Benjamin C Amick III3,4,
  3. George L Delclòs1,2,5
  1. 1Department of Experimental and Health Sciences, Center for Research in Occupational Health, Universidad Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain
  2. 2CIBER of Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP), Spain
  3. 3Division of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, The University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, Texas, USA
  4. 4Institute for Work and Health, Toronto, Canada
  5. 5Division of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences, The University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, Texas, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Fernando G Benavides, Department of Experimental and Health Sciences, Center for Research in Occupational Health, Universidad Pompeu Fabra, Doctor Aiguader 88, Barcelona 08003, Spain; fernando.benavides{at}upf.edu

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Work participation is central to human well-being. Whether and how people participate in work remains a key determinant of health and health inequalities.1 Regulating and enforcing safe and fair working conditions (including employment conditions, such as type of contract, salary, occupational hazards and social protection benefits) are essential to maintain and improve health and reduce disparities. Some contend regulations destroy jobs and businesses without actually protecting worker health. This debate reflects a broader public policy difference between those who defer to the ability of the labour market to self-regulate and those who believe that competitive labour markets are imperfect and must be regulated. In fact, in the most recent European Survey of Enterprises at Work and Emerging Risks,2 90% of 36 000 responding public and private companies with more than 10 employees from 31 countries indicated their major reason for addressing health and safety measures was ‘fulfilment of legal obligations.’ Access to sound scientific evidence could support a more balanced …

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