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Horseplay At Work Is No Laughing Matter

Female employee sneaking kick me sign behind her manager's back. Horseplay at work.

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Horseplay may be fun among friends on the playground, but it has no place in the workplace and can lead to serious injury or harassment claims. Workplace horseplay incidents are a serious concern for workers and employers because these incidents can lead to serious injuries that take employees off the job. Roughhousing should never be viewed as harmless fun when it happens at work, and workers need to know their rights in these situations.

In Horseplay Accidents, Who Is Liable?

When it comes to awarding compensation, accidents involving horseplay have often been seen as a gray area. OSHA defines a workplace accident as one that occurs if an event or exposure to something in the workplace is the cause of the injury. Based on this definition, horseplay accidents could easily fit the bill for workers’ compensation claims.

To prove that an employer may be liable for injuries that were caused by horseplay, four factors must be present.

  • First, the injury must have occurred on the employer’s premises.
  • Second, the accident must have occurred at an event or time when employees were expected to be present.
  • If the employer had a financial role in supporting the activity, then they are more likely to be held liable.
  • Finally, if the activity or event benefited the employer, such as an outing to build team morale that led to a horseplay related injury, the employer could be held liable.

A work injury attorney who is familiar with work injuries caused by horseplay will consider a number of factors that often help clarify employer liability. He or she might look at whether the horseplay could be considered bullying or workplace violence, horseplay was a normal part of the work environment, and whether the behavior was routinely ignored by the employer.

Preventing Horseplay Needs to Be Priority

Prevention of horseplay injuries needs to be a priority in the workplace. Workers need to be made aware that they are directly responsible for each other’s safety. Monitoring for horseplay and taking action when it is observed will also help prevent injuries. Employees need to be willing to speak up when their co-workers are guilty of horseplay to help keep everyone safe and productive in the workplace. What seems to be a harmless prank could quickly turn into a serious injury.

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