Grant 31/12-13: Prosecuting workplace violence: the utility and policy implications of criminalisation

Every employer is responsible for ensuring as far as reasonable the health and safety of those in the workplace.  However self-regulation is intended to be balanced by the regulators’ ability to apply punitive sanctions when significant breaches of this responsibility occur. The findings of this research suggest that regulators have consistently avoided applying sanctions for psychological injury even when its causes have been verified in the balance of probabilities. As a consequence employers have largely escaped liability for harms associated with psychological injury arising from inter personal, management or systemic mistreatment.   This suggests that there is a need for significantly better evidence of the extent to which the softer approach by regulators reduces risk, improves quality of responses by employers and acts as an effective deterrent. In the absence of such evidence, it will remain questionable whether existing policies and practices are capable of reducing the incidence of such injuries, the harm that is done, and the capacity for restorative justice.