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A Global Look: How Different Countries Tackle Workplace Violence

Posted by Amber Boyd | Apr 16, 2024 | 0 Comments

Ever wondered how the rest of the world deals with workplace violence? It's a big issue that affects millions, but depending on where you are, the approach can vary quite a bit. Let's take a stroll around the globe and see how various countries are stepping up to keep their workplaces safe.

United States

While the U.S. doesn't have a federal law that directly targets workplace violence, there are still ways it's being tackled. For example, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) offers guidelines to help employers prevent workplace violence. These aren't mandatory, though, so it's really up to each state to toughen up the rules. California, for instance, has taken things a step further by requiring health care facilities to have detailed violence prevention plans in place.


Our neighbors up north in Canada are pretty proactive about this stuff. The Canada Labour Code is clear: employers have to prevent and protect against violence at work. This includes doing risk assessments and setting up prevention measures. Provinces like Ontario even make employers write up policies on handling workplace violence and harassment.

United Kingdom

Across the pond, the UK uses the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to keep workers safe, which includes protection from violence. They've got additional regulations that require employers to assess and reduce the risks of violence. Plus, sectors where violence is more common, like healthcare and retail, get extra guidance on how to keep things safe.


Down in Australia, the approach is similar to the UK. Their model Work Health and Safety Act requires employers to manage risks to both physical and psychological health, which includes violence. Each state has its own set of rules and a regulatory body making sure employers are keeping up their end of the bargain.


Japan has recently started cracking down on workplace violence, especially what they call power harassment (パワハラ, pawahara). In 2020, they beefed up the Labor Policy Comprehensive Promotion Act to push employers into preventing this kind of harassment. It's all part of a bigger effort to improve the work culture there.


In Brazil, the general rule is that employers should keep the workplace safe, but specific laws on workplace violence are a bit thin on the ground. Nevertheless, recognition of issues like harassment and bullying is on the rise, and courts are beginning to hold employers accountable for not stopping aggressive behaviors.


Germany takes workplace safety seriously, including protection against violence and harassment. The German Occupational Safety and Health Act mandates employers to assess the risk of violence and take necessary precautions. There's also a strong emphasis on training employees to handle potential violence and creating a culture of prevention.


Sweden is known for its progressive approach to worker safety. The Work Environment Act there obliges employers to prevent risks of occupational injury, which includes psychological harm from workplace violence. Swedish law also empowers employees to halt work if they deem it unsafe, which strengthens their position against potential violence.

South Africa

South Africa's Occupational Health and Safety Act requires employers to provide a work environment that is free from physical threats. The law specifically includes provisions to protect employees from all forms of violence, acknowledging the country's high incidence of occupational violence.

Wrapping It Up

So, there you have it—a quick world tour of workplace violence laws. It's interesting to see how different places are taking on the challenge, from comprehensive laws to broader health and safety measures. The push for safer workplaces is gaining momentum globally, and it's exciting to think about the impact this could have on workers everywhere.

Let's chat about it—have you noticed any unique approaches where you live or work? Drop a comment and let's get the conversation going!

About the Author

Amber Boyd

Amber K. Boyd is a versatile professional with strong experience in managing complex litigation matters. She founded Amber K. Boyd Attorney at Law in 2013, where she is the sole practitioner. Ms. Boyd specializes in employment law with a focus on discrimination cases. She also has deep expertise ...


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