Team Building: Don’t Forget Health & Safety
Andrea’s True Story
Andrea was participating in a team building exercise at a performance theater. Members of her team were organized in a circle on the stage. Andrea stationed herself facing the inner circle with her back to the stage edge while other team members were standing at other points on the circle’s perimeter.
The purpose of the exercise was to give team members “a feel” for an actor’s responsibility, stressors, and role in a performance.
With no time for planning or preparation, each team member was asked to share something unique, unknown to fellow team members. Each person entered the center of the circle and shared his/her revelation while performing a movement to illustrate. He/she then returned to the perimeter of the circle while performing the same movement. Team members were asked to focus on each team member’s revelation and movement and to duplicate the acting as a cohesive team, moving in and out of the circle center as a unit. Each member performed individually for about 8 seconds – then performed as a team for about 8 seconds. Without pause, the next team member performed. While listening and watching the performing team member, team members were also trying to figure out what their revelation would be, how they were going to illustrate it, the location of expensive lighting equipment which they had been asked to avoid, and to focus on the actor leading the exercise in order to be “fully engaged”.
As the team’s frenetic movement shifted in to high gear, the circle began to expand. Just as an adjacent team member reached out to warn everyone that they had moved too close to the stage edge, Andrea fell off the stage — all of this happening within a second.
Andrea suffered from several fractures and ultimately left the organization after months of legal and health/financial benefit challenges that took its toll on her, and cost her employer organizational disruption and the loss of a successful, valued employee. The aftermath of Andrea’s accident was in many respects more traumatic than the accident itself. Ten years later, Andrea continues to suffer physically and has not been released to work full time.
Most Common Causes of Teambuilding Injuries
- Tiredness and overwork
- Repetitive actions
- Falling objects
- Workplace violence
- Dangerous materials
Design a Team Building Event Suitable for Your Employees/Coworkers
- Prepare your team ahead of time
- Customize the event
- Playground rules – get everyone involved
- Match the event to their personalities
- No office
- Keep it fun
- Think out of the box
- Build trust
- Take some risks
- Add a charitable goal
Risk Assessments and Preparation
- Transportation on the Day: Are you travelling from company HQ or are your staff going there independently? It makes more sense as a team to travel together. Driving accidents cost companies over $60 billion a year, so work with a professional coach company to get your staff to and from the event.
- Check the Weather Forecast: Weather can be unpredictable in some areas, so if you have an outdoor event, which tend to be best, plan carefully for the time of year when you want to have the event. Consider providing weatherproofing such as bringing sunscreen, umbrellas or raincoats, warm clothing for cold conditions, and so on.
- Be Inclusive: Consider all of your employees, their likes and dislikes, problems and physical impairments. Involve them in safety management and finally, let them have an option to opt for a different activity so they do not feel pressured into doing one thing they may be uncomfortable with.