Workers never anticipate the worst case scenario when they pull a prank or set somebody up for a “harmless” joke. They just think of the laughs it will provide. The consequences, however, can quickly lead to tragedy, and then it is too late to turn back the clock.
Some might call workplace horseplay a form of bullying. Others might call it good clean fun that is all a part of a healthy workplace. Either way, workplace horseplay is nothing new. Being bored or stressed out at work is no excuse to play a practical joke on someone. While you may be tempted to complete a gag because the result will entertain you and/or others the law is quite explicit in this matter.
Some examples of horseplay are;
1) Scaring someone
2) Air hosing someone
3) Wrestling with someone
6) Dropping objects next to someone
7) Throwing water on someone
8) Throwing objects or tools at someone
9) Placing tacks under someone
Section 28 of the OHSA covers this type of concern.
Subsection 2(b) — Use or operate any equipment, machine, device or thing or work in a manner that may endanger himself, herself or any other worker,
Subsection 2(c) — Engage in any prank, contest, feat of strength, unnecessary running or rough or boisterous conduct.
Remember, it is the law to abstain from any boisterous play, prank or gag. Here are a few tips to prevent one of these in your workplace;
1) Don’t give the prankster an audience
2) Look past the humour and recognize the hazard
3) Don’t participate!
4) Discourage fellow workers from acting up on the job
5) Report horseplay to your supervisor.
By the way, in Ontario, number 5 is also the law.
Section 28, subsection 1(d)
A worker shall report to his or her supervisor ANY contravention of this ACT or the regulations or the existence of any hazard of which he or she knows.
So please, consider a prank to be an opportunity for an accident/incident in the workplace. It may not have any effect at all or it can lead to a lifetime condition to you or one of your co-workers.
Ensure your workplace is a safe place.
Remember — In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer