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Written by
on 03 May 2018

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“Funny” video is actually a collection of health and safety nightmares

health and wellbeing distraught construction workerA video circulating on Twitter recently looks like a harmless workplace prank – but it could have been a disaster.

Workplace pranks are social media gold – which is why a new video circulating this month attracted so much attention. In the clip, a workman is filmed taking a nap during a break on his building site.

The camera then zooms out to reveal a row of cinder blocks that loop around the floor, ending just behind the sleeping man. The first brick is then toppled, creating a “domino rally”-type effect, as each tumbling block knocks over the next in the line.

The last brick then falls on the sleeping man’s head, waking him up. The stunt is quite elaborate and – to the prankster – very funny.

Unfortunately, the video reveals several serious issues that the site operator needs to address – quickly.

Poor workplace habits

It would be wrong to blame the victim of the prank for what happens to them, but their actions certainly have a part to play. Sleeping on site is dangerous, particularly in the areas where construction is taking place.

Taking a nap during breaks is probably good practice. But workers should be encouraged to relax in appropriate break rooms to avoid accidents and injury.

Poor PPE standards

The victim in the video takes a direct hit to the head from a breeze block, which could have resulted in serious injury. The risk of things falling on our heads is the reason we wear helmets on site.

The fact that the man is sleeping is no excuse – hard hats must be worn at all times on construction sites. Unless a worker is in a designated safe area they must wear appropriate PPE.

Workplace bullying

Less obvious, but just as dangerous, is the attitude of the prankster. Whether the stunt was malicious or not, someone was the butt of a joke that could have resulted in serious injury.

At best, the prankster underestimated the potential risk to their colleague. At worst, this could be evidence of an ongoing campaign or harassment and bullying.

Site operators need to be aware of toxic workplace relationships so they can protect their employees. Research suggests that construction workers are 600% more likely to die as a result of suicide than a fall from height for instance.

Identifying and stopping aggressive/bullying behaviour has a positive effect on a worker’s physical and mental wellbeing.

Time to tighten up

The domino rally video may have done wonders for the worker’s social media following, but it reflects very badly on the site operator. Highly publicised examples of poor workplace practices will undoubtedly attract the attention of the HSE – as well as place workers at risk of harm.

Our advice to main contractors is to conduct an urgent review of site practices and to tighten up wherever shortfalls are found. And as always, Veritas Consulting is more than happy to help with the review if required.

About the author

David Cant is a Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME’s favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick. You can find him across social media on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

4 Comments
  • Tamara says:

    Good post David like your points

    Unfortunately, those work environment where this behaviour is exhibited all to often this unprofessional attitude starts at the manager level, in my experience. They set the tone and group normative behaviours which encourages this mobbing mentality

    This is what needs to be corrected in my opinion

  • Chris George says:

    I bet that hurt. Not just the block hitting him on the head, actually blocks, that must have hurt his pride as well. he will have felt humiliated. Are there regular site inspections? Where’s his hard hat? Why does he feel the need to take a nap in the first place? Is he overworked? Was he out late the night before? Maybe he can’t sleep at all? There are many reasons why, but ultimately it’s horseplay. And horseplay can kill.

    • David Cant says:

      Absolutely. We all like a joke, but often there are underlying issues with situations like this that can easily go undetected by coworkers.. Great points BTW and cheers for commenting.