Is it ok for Construction workers to Horse around?
Recently a viral video has been circulating, showing a gang of builders running their own version of the Grand National steeplechase around an unspecified construction site. Each of the runners is “mounted” on a broomstick, jumping over piles of rubble, drainage pipes and other debris as the cameraman provides a running commentary.
The race comes to its conclusion when one runner, Jonesy, misses the water jump and lands in a three-foot deep puddle. Everyone dissolves into fits of laughter rolling around on the ground while Jonesy wanders off upset in the direction of home.
Hilarious – and worrying
Running over uneven ground and brick piles is dangerous at the best of times – but when chasing others in a pack, the odds of falling are greatly increased. More worrying is the fact that the crew have built “jumps” – deliberate trip hazards that have the potential to cause serious injury.
Finally, the “puddle” into which Jonesy falls is clearly much too deep – it’s more like a deep hole that has been filled with water. Is this hole usually cordoned off, or have the gang moved safety barriers to create their water jump? It that is the case, these men have deliberately created dangerous on-site conditions just for fun.
At least all of the riders appear to be wearing their hard hats and suitable work boots.
Is there something more sinister going on?
Give the video a second look however, and all is not as it appears. Jonesy gets a very easy lead on the other runners who do not appear to be making any serious effort to catch up.
By the time Jonesy reaches the water jump, the other three contestants are well behind. And when Jonesy does leap into the puddle, the reaction of the others suggests that they are aware how deep the water is. Jonesy on the other hand clearly does not.
What started as a spot of Friday afternoon workplace banter takes on a darker tone. As Jonesy leaves the site, he may (quite rightly) be feeling quite victimised.
Workplace bullying – a threat to health and safety
Most workplace health and safety initiatives are intended to reduce risks posed by physical dangers – like water-filled trenches. But mental health is also an important consideration, particularly as suicide rates are unusually high in this industry.
Workplace bullying is known to have a direct effect on mental health – so employers need to come down hard on incidents that go beyond general banter. They also need to operate an “open door” policy that encourages employees to report incidents of bullying.
Being able to have a laugh and a joke with colleagues is vital to building the team spirit that boosts productivity and makes the work day more bearable. But occasionally these stunts go too far, placing the health and wellbeing of the gang in danger.
For Jonesy and the other “stars” of this video, there was never any intention of seriously injuring anyone – but their behaviour certainly could have caused serious harm.