Workplace horseplay can cause serious issues for both employees and companies. In a prior article, we looked at a case where an employee broke his leg engaging in horseplay.
Although the injury was bad enough, there was the added difficulty of conflicting stories of the incident, and a dispute over workers’ compensation. Reduce your risk of injuries and liability. Here are some key points to teach your workers about the dangers of horseplay at work.
1. Horseplay and Fooling Around Are the Opposites of Safe, Responsible Work
According to the dictionary:
- Horseplay means rough fun.
- Fooling around means doing foolish, useless things.
- Fool is a person with little or no judgment or common sense.
2. Workplace Rules Ban Horseplay Because It’s Dangerous
Horseplay is usually a friendly, physical way to let off steam. But that type of fooling around is dangerous on the job because:
- When you’re fooling around, you’re not concentrating on your work.
- Directing your horseplay at others is even more dangerous. They’re not expecting the distraction and could easily have an accident such as falling into a moving machine part, slipping on the floor, or dropping a tool.
- Giving less than full concentration and attention to safety procedures makes you less likely to notice or account for hazards until it may be too late.
- Most accidents are caused by unsafe acts—and horseplay itself is an unsafe act.
3. Workplace Horseplay Creates Unnecessary Risks
You can prevent most workplace accidents by being alert to hazards and following safety rules. You can’t do either when you indulge in horseplay. Some examples:
- Running, chasing, or pushing can cause slips, trips, falls, and other accidents. You may:
- Not notice spills or items lying on the floor.
- Crash into, or push someone else into, heavy equipment or moving parts.
- Knock boxes or materials onto a person.
- Knock over open containers of hazardous substances.
- Throwing tools is a frequent cause of injuries. They may:
- Stab someone with a sharp edge.
- Hit someone in the head, eye, foot, etc., and cause an injury.
- Fall from a height and hit a person below with tremendous impact.
- Fooling around with PPE can damage it and expose you or another worker to a hazardous substance.
- Speeding or stunt driving with a forklift can cause it to tip over or hit people or objects, possibly injuring the driver or pedestrians.
- Climbing on or under forklift forks or moving crane parts can cause you to get crushed or pushed. It’s against the law.
- Running with a hand truck could spill the load on someone or run over feet.
- Pushing, teasing, or otherwise distracting people working with machinery could cause pinch point or other injuries.
- Practical jokes like “hiding” someone’s PPE, dropping your half of a load, turning out lights, etc., are not funny—they’re dangerous.
4. Take Your Job, Your Responsibilities, and Safety Seriously
- You’re responsible for performing your job correctly, which includes safely.
- Safety rules and procedures are designed to protect you.
- Everyone must follow safety rules.
- Failure to follow the rules is dangerous—for you and for others.
- Horseplay and other safety rule violations can lead to disciplinary action.
- Don’t indulge in horseplay or accuse those who won’t go along of having “no sense of humor.”
- Think how bad you would feel if your horseplay injured or sickened someone else—maybe seriously.
- Don’t allow other people to engage you in horseplay.