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Horseplay Can Lead to Unintentional Injuries

Recently a young friend of mine was injured due some escalating horseplay that he instigated.  While a co-worker and friend was in the break room eating lunch my friend walked by and squirted his friend with water from a spray bottle.  Just a playful act… what could hurt?  Let the games begin!  With no malice intended the friend retaliated with some horseplay of his own.

The co-worker made a cup of hot water in the new coffee maker, walked over and dumped it into my friends lap.  The perpetrator ran away laughing because he really didn’t recognize the hazard.  The young man had to go to the hospital ER to be treated for serious burns in a very sensitive and embarrassing area of his body.  My young friend recognizes that he is as guilty as his co-worker for participating in horseplay that lead to his own unintentional personal injury.

Everyone should enjoy work, but not through horseplay.  Industrial worksites are no place to play around due to the hazards presented by technology used to produce work.  Horseplay can cause someone to jump into rotating machines, drop chemicals, or distract a co-worker who is trying to keep their guard up against an attack.  Some documentation suggests that OSHA views horseplay as workplace violence, while Human Resources consider it workplace harassment.  One issue is that many people are affected because they may think they are next on the list of practical jokes making them uncomfortable.

My young friend has healed from the painful lesson.  Both men were disciplined for their part in the event, but not terminated as long as they change their behavior.  A workplace is a hazardous place for workers as it exists.  There is no way to remove all risk from work or life, but adding the risk horseplay presents will not help in improving your workplace safety culture.  Before you play a joke on a co-worker, think again.  Remember the goal is to create a workplace where nobody gets hurt.

Be Safe!

Carl Potter, CSP


Carl Potter has been helping companies prevent workplace injuries since 1992.  Before that he worked 17 years for one of the largest electric utility companies in the United States as a Journeyman electrical worker in transmission and distribution, and power plant.  He is the author of what has become his best selling book Safety Attitudes: Improving your workplace’s safety culture begins with you

He also developed his Hazard Recognition and Control Workshop which has been attended by thousands of employees with great success.  To learn more about this workshop visit: or to request information about having this workshop at your location email him at:

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