employment law - MDK

It’s all fun and games until….

Posted by | Sarah Radovanovic | No Comments

With more and more businesses and companies returning to normal after COVID-19, a recent decision by the District Court in Western Australia, Kremer v Sandfire Resources NL [2020] WADC 130 offers a timely reminder that there is nothing wrong about trying to lift office spirits.

A mining company organised a “fun” evening for its staff involving a “sporty parody, horse themed, site social event”. The invitation to employees also stated:

“Please note there are three main rules to this event:
Have fun!
No injuries. If you have a sore back don’t volunteer to be a horse or rider. Readings of 000 are expected the next morning so have fun and be responsible.”

Towards the end of the evening two employees “raced off” to decide last place. They had to complete a short circuit with a child’s hobby horse between their legs. In this pursuit one of the employees – in an attempt to win, began running without the hobby horse and fell over causing himself a shoulder injury.

He sued the company and its employees for failing to adequately supervise and/or failure to conduct any or any adequate risk assessment of the event.

The Court, in dismissing the claim, said “This was a fun event” and just because there might have been an element of competition, that, in these circumstances, did not give rise to some heightened risk of foreseeable injury. There was no evidence of inappropriate provision of alcohol. The nature of the fun social event did not require a formal risk assessment process. “No amount of training or supervision would have prevented one participant in this race accidentally tripping or entangling with another participant so as to cause him to fall.”

Personal responsibility, thankfully, is alive and well.

If you are planning a social event:

(a) keep it sensible, fun and within normal bounds;
(b) don’t allow over-indulgence in alcohol; and
(c) warn against and prevent against silly or dangerous behaviours by individuals.

Otherwise the case is a reminder that there is still a responsibility on individuals, employees to take responsibility for their own actions.

If you have an employee or workplace issue contact Sarah Radovanovic.

Phone: 9221 5326
Email: sarahr@mdk.com.au