A member of staff was messing around with his colleagues throwing things (elastic bands/nuts/washers) in their direction to wind them up (self-confessed). As far as we can tell from interviewing witnesses, this was all in jest and quite normal.
One colleague told him to stop which he did so he started on another. He then ‘hid’ and braced himself for retaliation. The second colleague picked up a sellotape dispenser (desk type, quite heavy with serated edge) and threw this up in the air towards where the first was ‘hiding’ next to another colleague over the top of some racking – some 6/7 feet in the air.
The sellotape dispenser hit a a steel girder, bounced off of it and hit a box on top of the racking. If this box had not been where it was, it could have landed on either the first employee or the uninvolved one he was near.
The dispenser shattered on impact and covered another uninvolved employee in sand which he was seen wiping out of his eyes.
Whilst we appreciate this started as a bit of fun, we feel there is a serious H&S issue here as well as the damage to company property.
My question is, whilst we feel disciplinary action is appropriate for both employees involved, should we treat them the same or can we treat the second one more severely based on what and how he retaliated (i.e. throwing such a potentially dangerous item where the ‘targets’ wouldn’t have seen it coming)?