Horseplay at Work – It’s No Joke!

It’s not uncommon for workers to need to step away, if only for a moment, to escape the stress and routine of their day-to-day work. It’s in these moments that horseplay often ensues, and what may seem like harmless relief can lead to serious injuries, which are allowable workers’ compensation claims.

What is horseplay? 

Horseplay is rough or rowdy play or pranks that occur in the workplace – such as playing jokes that involve physical contact, racing, grabbing, foolish vehicle operation, and social pressure to participate in unsafe acts.  

What’s the harm?

Don’t view horseplay on the job as harmless fun. When an employee is fooling around, they are not concentrating on their work. 

Horseplay directed at others is even more dangerous – they are not expecting the distraction and could easily have an accident such as falling into a moving machine part, slipping on the floor, or knocking boxes into a person. Workplace horseplay incidents may lead to serious injuries at work, divide the workplace, and prevent employees from getting their jobs done.

Take precautions.

What can you do as an employer to prevent horseplay incidents?

  • Lead by example.
  • Have a policy that clearly states that employees are to refrain from engaging in horseplay and a procedure for employees to report unsafe behaviors.
  • Provide a safe and healthy work environment for all employees.
  • Ensure that employees understand and follow company operating practices and safety procedures.

Encourage other safe ways to have fun at work.

You and your employees work hard – so while horseplay isn’t the answer, there are safe ways you can have fun at work and help your employees build relationships.

  • Set up a “creativity” station in the break room – a quick craft, cardmaking, photo booth, etc.
  • Establish programs or contests for staff members – a chili-cook off, lunch break trivia, a cookie exchange, a photo contest, or fitness tracking/competition.
  • Make time to celebrate – birthdays, work anniversaries, retirement, etc.  
  • Forego the uniform for a day and let employees enjoy a “casual Friday” or show support for their favorite team by wearing fan gear.

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