Why the Workplace is not the Place for Practical Jokes and Horseplay

Why the Workplace is not the Place for Practical Jokes and Horseplay

Injuries from a Prank gone wrong ain’t a Laughing Matter

April Fool’s Day has come and gone. And, we guess, you would have engaged in some funny pranks and other practical jokes at your workplace.

Here, in today’s article, we’ll be discussing why the “Workplace isn’t the Place for Practical Jokes, be it on April 1st or any other day of the year.”

You would have heard your mom impart this advice while growing up, “it’s all games and fun until someone gets hurt.” These words of wisdom don’t just apply to growing kids. They ring true, even in the workplace.

Horseplay, practical jokes or pranks in your work environment is all fun but could lead to accidents and life-threatening injuries – sometimes can even lead to fatal consequences, like death. For instance, an everyday tool like a hammer casually thrown toward or at a co-worker has the potential to cause deadly injuries or even could become fatal.

“Your Practical Jokes take a tragic turn when a Workmate is injured.”

Every year, hundreds of employees are injured due to horseplay at work, especially in industrial workplaces.

What is Horseplay and why is it Dangerous?

Horseplay is when employees play practical jokes on one another. It’s often considered as a friendly way to blow off steam and reduce work tensions while improving the friendly relation among co-workers. Horseplay can be anything including playing around, racing, grabbing, unauthorized contests, throwing things and much more.

Reasons why your Workplace isn’t the Place for Horseplay

What starts as harmless fun could end up having disastrous consequences. A person who is the target of practical jokes and pranks suffers both physically and emotionally. Additionally, frequent horseplay at work makes everyone distracted. Instead, of focusing on their job, employees are more concentrated more about discovering the next prank and protecting themselves from it.

People who joke around don’t just cause injuries to themselves, but also to those around them. Above all, it creates an unsafe working environment that is prone to injuries.

Horseplay at the Workplace creates Risks that could easily be avoided

Dangers Caused by Practical Jokes, Pranks, and Horseplay at Work

Injuries due to practical jokes and pranks at the workplace are the ones that could have been easily avoided, just by not engaging in it, in the first place. Here are a few potential hazards of workplace horseplay.

  • Running, chasing others, pushing can lead to slips, falls, trips and other accidents. When you’re involved in these acts, you are likely to
    • Not notice sharp items or liquid spills on the floor
    • Crash into a sharp object, heavy equipment, moving machinery or even push others into any of the above said objects
    • Knock bulky items onto others, who aren’t engaged in the horseplay
    • Knock hazardous chemicals
  • Throwing tools to/at others are one of the most common injuries of goofing around. You could
    • Stab the other person/bystander with a sharp edge
    • Hit someone in sensitive areas like the head, ears, eyes, foot leading to deadly injuries
    • Throw the object from a height and hit a person standing below accidentally
  • You could expose yourself or another employee to harmful chemicals at the workplace
  • Speeding or racing around with heavy machinery like forklifts can cause you to hit other people and object, injuring both the driver and bystanders
  • Climbing on heavy machinery like cranes and forklifts could lead you to get crushed or pushed under, leading to fatal injuries and even death
  • Other practical jokes like switching off lights, hiding someone’s safety gear are not funny – indeed they’re dangerous

For Employees,

Before you attempt a prank or a practical joke at work, make sure to remember these helpful tips:

  • Ask yourself this question “Is the prank likely to hurt anybody, be it physically or emotionally?” Look past the humour and consider the dangers involved. If it even presents a minimal chance of hurting others, don’t pull it off.
  • Don’t prank a newcomer – Before you spring a practical joke on a person, make sure that you know the person well. You must be able to judge his/her response. Don’t fall into the habit of cornering a new employee. Also, don’t choose a person just because he/she is an easy target. When you do so, your pranks become bullying.
  • Avoid over-the-top Pranks – Every year, it’s become sort of a ritual at workplaces to overdo last year’s April Fool pranks. This leads to employees crossing the line, leading to dangerous practices.
  • Limit your Practical Jokes to After-work Parties and Dinners – If you really want to pull a prank on your co-employees, then do so after work and away from the workplace. This way you don’t have any dangerous hazards nearby and don’t run the risk of work termination.
  • Don’t be the person to initiate or even suggest the activity. Also, don’t let social compulsion and peer pressure persuade you to participate in the prank. Above all, when you notice a potential danger, make sure to report it to the safety manager.

For Employers

Make sure to follow the tips listed below to eliminate horseplay at work.

  • Outline policies against Workplace Horseplay in your Employee Manual – The best way to avoid practical jokes and horseplay at work is by enforcing strict rules. If it’s against the company policy, then employees aren’t likely to attempt it. Ensure that employees who break this rule are subjected to appropriate disciplinary action. And, make sure that you’re consistent with this disciplinary action so that employees are aware of the consequences.
  • Train Employees – Another effective way to prevent workplace injuries due to horseplay is by providing your employees with appropriate safety training. When they are aware of the disastrous consequences, they are not likely to indulge in it.
  • Post this notice on your premises, to help employees prevent workplace horseplay
    • Don’t initiate horseplay
    • Don’t encourage it by laughing or goading
    • Don’t fall into the peer pressure of participating in it
    • Don’t ignore it when you see it happening

It is always advisable to engage all the workers at least once in a month on any weekly off day for an formal outdoor activities out of work place. Explaining all the benefits of togetherness etc and also to avoid any such horseplay at workplace. Also it is good for the CSR image building for the company. TOTALIKA has a place www.mytotalika.org to cater such outdoor activities.

Final Thoughts

Remember, that practical jokes and horseplay is not only dangerous for you but also for others. Even if you don’t suffer an injury, involving yourself in such activities could invite disciplinary action and sometimes even work termination.

For further guidance on improving your workplace safety and building a safety conscious workforce, get in touch with us, to see how we can help you.

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