As the adage goes, “it’s all fun and games, until someone gets hurt.” In the workplace, the meaning of this expression becomes even more critical.
Most employers do not tolerate outrageous horseplay in the workplace. However, that does not always stop employees from engaging in unruly behavior. Unfortunately, this reckless behavior often puts employees at risk of an injury. And these injuries are not covered by workers’ compensation.
Horseplay is not “within the course of his or her employment”
California’s workers’ compensation laws are specific. They include the particular conditions that allow an injured employee to collect compensation. An injury must be an accident that resulted when the employee was completing their work responsibilities or duties. Therefore, it cannot be the result of the injured individual engaging in:
- Intentional or willful harm;
- Negligent or criminal actions; or
What is considered horseplay?
Horseplay can include a wide range of reckless and unnecessary acts, including:
- Practical jokes and pranks
- Roughhousing or fighting
- Contests or racing
- Operating machinery recklessly
For example, if industrial workers play around on forklifts and suffer an injury in the process, their injury might not be covered under workers’ compensation.
How can employees prevent injuries from horseplay?
Horseplay or jokes at work might seem like harmless fun. However, that fun can quickly become dangerous. Of course, there is no problem with adding some amusement to the job and enjoying time with coworkers. But all employees should always ensure that they:
- Avoid starting reckless behavior while at work;
- Disregard any pressure to engage in such behavior;
- Take their responsibilities seriously; and
- Follow the safety policies in their workplace.
Safety regulations exist for a reason. And following them can not only help workers stay safe, but also protect their rights to obtain benefits in the event of a work injury.