02:47 am, Monday 23 May, 2011
The latest craze to hit workplaces across Australia is known as “planking”, where employees are photographed laying horizontally in unusual places.
Two Australian workers last week gained world wide publicity after being sacked by Santos for planking on two smoke stacks 60 metres in the air at their refinery in Whyalla, South Australia.
The Santos incident follows a spate of sackings where employees have photographed themselves planking at work.
Woolworths has sacked eight staff in three states for planking on meat grinders, display shelves, trolleys and stacks of milk crates.
In New South Wales, the manager and assistant manager of a Dick Smith electronics store owned by Woolworths were dismissed after the company learned they had planked on a 2m shelving unit.
Workers at Colac Meat Works in Victoria have disciplined three staff for the dangerous behaviour. Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union area organiser Jim Britain told the Geelong Advertiser “two or three” employees had been suspended for a week, while a senior worker was demoted, after they lay flat on their stomachs on raised objects, including a wheelie bin, at work.
Facebook planking fan pages are popping up with hundreds of thousands of fans, and workplaces are being encouraged to ensure their workplace OHS policies are up to date and include directions regarding inappropriate behaviour.
SafetyCulture CEO, Luke Anear says, “It is better to be proactive with these trends. With dozens of workers having been caught planking, and the death of a man in Brisbane last week, employers need to send a clear message to their staff and contractors that it won’t be tolerated.”
“The particular danger with this trend, is that plankers are encouraging each other to be photographed in more dangerous positions. Adding a sense of risk and adventure.”
Planking can be traced back to 1997 in Europe and Japan when it was known as “the laying down game”. The game made news in September of 2009, when seven doctors and nurses working at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, England were suspended for playing the lying down game while on duty.
“Employers should consider introducing a workplace prank policy for employees to sign off on, that specifically deals with Planking,” Anear says. “These fads come through every few years, and usually they are more prevalent with younger workers, however in this case, it seems workers of all ages are taking part.”