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.

I was totally angered to see the final results of the tragic death of a 15 year boy on a paving site in Manitoba. Again, the governments of some of our sister provinces do not fully comprehend their responsibilities to protect their workers from future accidents such as this one.

The owner of a Manitoba paving company has been fined thousands of dollars for a workplace accident in which a 15-year-old boy was buried under hot asphalt. A judge has sentenced Gerald Shepell of Interlake Paving to pay $33,500 in the death of Andrew James in July 2008. Shepell pleaded guilty to numerous non-criminal charges under workplace and safety regulations, including employing under-age workers. He faced a maximum fine of $180,000, but Shepell’s lawyer had asked that the penalty not exceed $30,000. Shepell will pay $500 a month until the fine is paid off. It all amounts to a slap on the wrist as far as I am concerned.

Section 25, subsection 2, ‘An employer shall’,
a) Provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health and safety of the worker,
b) In a medical emergency for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment, provide, upon request, information in the possession of the employer, including confidential business information, to a legally qualified medical practitioner and to such other persons as may be prescribed,
c) When appointing a supervisor, appoint a competent person
d) Acquaint a worker, or a person in authority over a worker, with any hazard in the work and in the handling, storage, use, disposal and transport of any article, device, equipment or a biological, chemical or physical agent
e) Afford assistance and co-operation to a committee and health and safety representative in the carrying out by the committee and the health and safety representative of any of their functions
f) Only employ in or about a workplace a person who is over such age as may be prescribed,
g) Not knowingly permit a person who is under such age as may be prescribed to be in or about a workplace
h) Take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of the worker
i) Post in the workplace, a copy of this ACT and any explanatory material prepared by the Ministry, both in English and the majority language of the workplace, outlining the rights, responsibilities and duties of workers
j) Prepare and review at least annually a written occupational health and safety policy and develop and maintain a program to implement that policy
k) Post at a conspicuous location in the workplace a copy of the occupational health and safety policy
l) Provide to the committee or to a health and safety representative the results of a report respecting occupational health and safety that is in the employer’s possession and, if that report is in writing, a copy of the portions of the report that concern occupational health and safety, and
m) Advise workers of the results of a report referred to in clause (l), and if the report is in writing, make available to them on request copies of the portions of the report that concern occupational health and safety.

ection 25 and 26 of the OHSA are quite explicit on the responsibilities of employers. The following blog deals with section 25, subsection 1 only. A separate blog(s) will be posted at a later date to deal with section 25, subsection 2 as well as section 26.

Section 25, subsection 1, ‘An employer shall ensure that’,
a) The equipment, materials and protective devices as prescribed are provided,
b) The equipment, materials and protective devices provided by the employer are maintained in good condition,
c) The measures and procedures prescribed are carried out in the workplace,
d) The equipment, materials and protective devices provided by the employer are used as prescribed, and
e) A floor, roof, wall, pillar, support or other part of a workplace is capable of supporting all loads to which it may be subjected to without causing the materials therein to be stressed beyond the
allowable unit stresses established under the ‘The Building Code’.