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I know someone who always introduced his favorite jokes by saying, "This'll kill you!" Every time I see some wiseacre going in for practical jokes in a plant, I think of that saying, "This'll kill you!"

Sure, we all like a gag. We all like a laugh. But there are some situations in which a gag is no joke, and the laughs get turned into screams of pain.

When we were kids, we thought it was great sport to push a guy down, or trip him — and I've seen stunts like that pulled in factories by adults who never grew up.

A kid takes a fall well—usually. His bones are flexible and don't break easily. On a school playground, there's no fast machinery or concrete floors. But you take a grown person and give him a spill that wouldn't faze a kid and you'll stand a good chance of causing a crippling injury.

Or scaring somebody — another favorite kid-trick. Maybe you never saw one of those cases where a scare pulled as a gag causes real trouble — but it happens often. Maybe the guy being scared has a bad heart. Maybe he's carrying something heavy that can crush a foot. Maybe the start that fear causes puts him into danger at his machine or makes him step off a platform and fall.

Air hoses seem to bring out the baby in some grown men — they just want to play tricks with them. There have been several people killed by fellow workers who thought that it was smart to goose somebody with an air hose — sounds funny, but it isn't—it's likely to be plain deadly.

And there have been a lot more people loss eyes when so-called friends decide to blow some dust in their faces with air hoses.

Just about any kind of a wiseacre practical joke pulled in a busy shop is a threat to safety.

Sometimes it's even a threat to the safety of the joke puller. I've read several cases where the victim of a practical joke got sore, lost his head, and let fly with whatever was handy — wrench, hammer, knife, or whatever. And some of those times,, the guy's aim was good and the practical joker wound up in the hospital.

So let's behave like grown-up men and women, not like little kids.  If you've got a wisecrack, maybe we'll laugh at it when you tell it.

But let's lay off the horseplay and practical jokes on the job.


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