A Western Australian worker has pleaded guilty to failing to take reasonable care of the safety of another employee, and has been fined $6,000 plus costs.
The fined worker caused serious burns to a fellow worker, after he sprayed him with a highly flammable brake cleaning chemical as part of a prank. The fellow worker was unaware of the prank and that the chemical had come into contact with their shirt. While they continued welding, the brake cleaning chemical on their shirt ignited, sending up large flames and causing serious burns to the left side of their torso.
The injuries required specialist hospital treatment, including large skin draft, a 10-day hospital stay and a further month off of work.
The act had no intention of causing harm, nor was it a case of harassment or bullying (the two workers had engaged in horseplay and pranks in the past), but it highlights how dangerous fooling around or pranking in the workplace can be.
While it is great to have fun with your fellow workers, which in turn can build comradery within a team, it is important to make sure this is done safely.
Have you made workers aware of any workplace specific rules that need to be adhered to, or any conduct that is unacceptable and unsafe? Workplace rules can include:
- Wearing mandatory Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- No unauthorised entry
- Electrical tools, leads and RCD must be currently tested and tagged
- Work areas must be kept tidy and waste disposed of in bins or removed from site before leaving
- Horseplay, fighting, offensive language/behaviour will not be tolerated
- A zero tolerance to drugs, alcohol, bullying and harassment
Have fun at work, but stay safe