Work policies urged to reduce risky clowning
WORKPLACE policies are needed to discourage employees from taking part in current and future fads, with employers warned that planking is only the ‘‘tip of the iceberg’’ of inappropriate workplace stunts.
Lawyers and workplace authorities say a stunt, such as planking, may not be inherently dangerous.
However, employers and employees may both be legally liable if it goes wrong.
Some companies already have fired staff for planking – lying face down on unusual surfaces.
They potentially face legal action for unfair dismissal and other compensation claims if staff feel they were inappropriately sacked.
Kelly & Co workplace relations lawyer Clare Raimondo says the danger and frequency of stunts that employees perform at the workplace will only become worse as they try to outdo each other on social networking sites.
She says employers need to take steps to discourage fads, including zero-tolerance policies.
‘‘Employers need to put policies in place now to ensure they know how to deal with these sorts of unusual antics,’’ she says.
‘‘This shouldn’t be just restricted to planking but should also cover any trends that may take its place in the future which could also have an impact on workplace safety.’’
Other recent and emerging fads include ghosting (which involves a person following someone closely while they are walking), extreme sitting ( performing dance routines with a stool then sitting on it) and ghost riding (putting an automatic car into gear, hopping out and dancing on the roof or next to the car, before getting back in).
SafeWork SA reminds em- ployers they must provide a safe workplace but employees also need to take reasonable care to protect their own health and safety at work.
The group says it is up to the employer how it chooses to enforce its workplace safety policies.
If stunts are in breach of safe work systems, the employer is entitled to take disciplinary action.
Linkbridge director Grant Archer says employers need to recognise many acts are ‘‘cyberconduct’’. To address them effectively, they must be handled as a social media issue and not through traditional means.
‘‘ Responding solely to the craze itself is responding to a symptom and does not treat the cause,’’ he says.
‘‘ There is no doubt that breaches of safety or hygiene need to be dealt with.
‘‘But only looking at the issue in this way will not stop the flow of fads because the technology continues to develop and thrive.
‘‘Employers should take steps to get to the heart of the matter by educating their staff on the risks of cyberconduct to the organisation, to them and to their future.
‘‘It is only when the myth of the ‘cool’ is debunked will we start seeing this issue managed.’’
A stunt, such as planking, may not be inherently dangerous but employee and employer may be legally liable if it goes wrong.