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We all want to have workspaces that our employees enjoy, but sometimes we can take it a bit too far. And a couple of recent stories illustrate the injury risk of office play areas.
So read on before you install your company carousel in the lobby.
Last Christmas, an Australian travel company's holiday party got the summer fun treatment when it built a makeshift slip-and-slide past a row of cubicles. Flight Centre's legendary slide competition took a bad turn, though, when one employee was rushed to the hospital after being knocked unconscious.
Paul Gaffney told The Courier-Mail that he was "out for about 20 to 30 seconds" after slipping backwards on his second attempt. The company seems to have dodged a legal bullet, though, as Gaffney downplayed his injuries and said he wants the slip 'n slide competition to continue.
Rackspace Inc., a cloud computing company, is also famous for an office slide, though theirs is a curving, two-story metal slide permanently affixed in their Texas headquarters. The slide is popular among employees, guests, and even gubernatorial candidates.
The slide has also become infamously dangerous lately, as two broken legs suffered on the slide have led to two personal injury lawsuits against the company. First was a visiting IT executive who needed surgery to repair a broken tibia and fibula after his dress shoe got caught on the inside of the slide. The exec sued Rackspace, and the two parties settled out of court.
Closer to home was the case of a 19-month-old boy whose mother works for Rackspace. The boy also broke his tibia after snagging his foot on the slide, and his mom is suing Rackspace to the tune of up to $1 million in injury damages. As of this posting, the lawsuit is pending.
We all want to have fun at our jobs, but as employers we must be aware of potential premises liability issues. In general, business owners owe customers, visitors, and employees a duty of care to keep workplaces safe, and can be held liable for injuries that occur on a business' property.
So by all means make your office an enjoyable place to be, and maybe keep the office play area intact. Just make sure it's safe, lest you find yourself and your company being sued.
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