Near-death experiences or injuries during build season?

Building a prototype ball elevator out of wood at a build recently, our team captain shot me point blank with a nail gun. It was an accident of course, and it didn’t break the skin, it just bounced off. But it got me thinking, what near-death experiences or injuries have you sustained during the course of a season?

Well in my Rookie year there was a battery that the cable was missing so i proceeded to see if i could feel a charge from the battery. I tapped my fingers trying to quickly complete the circuit as to not get hurt that badly but felt nothing. So i did the smart thing:rolleyes: and took a wrench and completed the circuit. So there was a REALLY BRIGHT light and i was being shocked and was able to get myself off. But i was burnt on my fingers and very shakey and the wrench was welded::ouch:: ::safety::

Not during build season, but during a regional. Last year at FLR, I was working field reset. During a match one of the tubes came out of the field, I bent down to pick it up and toss it back, just as I was standing up, a robot arm came whipping over my head missing by a few inches, think some of it grazed my head. :ahh:

In 2008’s Overdrive, we had one minor flaw with our robot: when the compressor was on and the battery decided to drop below 8 volts, the solenoid for the extremely big and heavy tilting mechanism would automatically fire. Me, being the sole electrical/programming person, was right up front fixing something with the IR board used for hybrid mode that year when it first happened. All I heard was a small pop and a hiss, and next thing I know, I’m on the ground with half a robot on top of me. Thankfully, I was not hurt that bad, but from that point forward, any time anyone would hear that familiar hiss, someone had to jump for the controls to stop it before it swung forward (it has about a 3 second delay from when it fires to when it moves, that is how heavy it is).

A couple of us were working on the batteries when my friend took 2 pieces of metal and touched them to eachother, then the battery terminals… (idiot)
Lucky for him, he wasn’t shocked, but it made a HUGE spark!

Another time we were machineing on the mill when the bit came loose and flew out. No one was hurt though.

Based on my experiences, and of those of others, it should be taught immediately to all curious new students that short circuits on these extremely powerful batteries = ::ouch:: ::ouch:: ::ouch::

Last year another one of our mentors had a great “this is what NOT to do” demonstration moment. He was drilling something, and supporting it with his hand… he ended up drilling halfway into his hand too.

I’ve seen a robot, before the programming was fixed (and yes, this was a programming problem), try to decapitate event staff. No, it wasn’t my team’s robot.

This was back in 2003, when this whole “autonomous” thing first started. This particular robot had a rather long, rather quickly rotating arm that would telescope out autonomously, swing in a half-circle or so, raise to vertical to retract back and lock, and then stow itself for the rest of the match while the robot started driving. There was just one problem…

The code didn’t work quite like that at the local preship scrimmage. It had the telescoping out part down pretty well, but the whole “half-circle” part was still being tweaked, along with the timing of starting to drive and the ability to retract. This >10’ aluminum arm comes swinging outside the field border, rather wildly, and for whatever reason it’s swinging just about right at the head ref and the MC, who have to duck and jump. Even field reset had to jump back a time or two. After two matches of that, that part of the autonomous was disabled until they could prove it worked.

The good news is the team in question didn’t do that at the regionals–they’d gotten the code under control by then.

Two words: Chuck Keys

Make sure all your new students get into the habit of ALWAYS removing them. people love to leave chuck keys sitting in lathe chucks. When you turn them on, things get really interesting REALLY fast.

A belt sander broke sending the belt flying at my face

This isn’t a near death experience for me, but for one of my teamates. In 2010 we wanted to test the power of a winch we were considering using for the bonus. We wanted to test it under a load, but had no weights. We ended up just bolting it to a piece of wood and having a team member (ironically our safety captain) stand on the wood while the winch hoisted him in the air. No one was hurt, but our lead mentor was none too happy when he saw us.

I was driving a demo robot at an outdoor public exhibit, using a wireless controller. I turned my back on the robot without disabling it and then brushed the controller against something. I turned around quickly to see a small child laying under the robot. Completely under it. Just a bruise or two; she didn’t even yell or cry. Scared the … out of me.

It takes less than a second for a 150 lb robot to do serious injury to nearby people. Never operate close to people and never turn your back on a live robot.

Seeing this thread makes me think. Is there some sort of waiver for FRC teams, removing teams/schools from liability for any injury sustained during a team function? If there isn’t, there really shouldn’t be. The last thing FIRST needs is to have a kid lose a finger or something due to his/her own carelessness or some sort of machine malfunction. Is that perhaps part of TIMS?

All teams have to have each student sign a waiver when they come to both kickoffs and regionals.

Spring loaded chuck keys, they can’t stay in the chuck. Completely prevents this issue.

One of my teammates found a three-prong AC plug lying around that wasn’t attached to a cable; just three exposed screw terminals. Of course, his immediate instinct was to plug it in.

These stories might be somewhat entertaining, but hopefully teams also see them as examples of why safe working practices are so important. “Near-death experience” means exactly what it says: something that can kill you if you aren’t lucky.

That is a waiver for the event, not for the activities the team members are involved in during build season.

For us, any team member under 16 may only use hand tools. 16+ are allowed to use power tools and larger shop equipment under supervision of an adult mentor and proper training.

Not near death, but quite brutal. In 2010, we, like many teams, had a kicker that rotated around a central pivot, powered by a ton of surgical tubing. The top of the kicker had a gate latch to hold t in the ready position. Because there was a lot of tension on the piece, it took a fair amount of force to open the latch. While testing, one of our mentors put a hand on the robot to steady it while he manually pulled the latch. The kicker swung down and slammed his hand against another piece, deeply cutting his hand by his thumb. I think he needed stitches and was wearing a wrist brace thing to demobilize his thumb. With the liability issue, I think he believed it was his own fault and didn’t blame the team.

Lessons: Beware of fast and powerful mechanisms, and keep hands away from loaded mechanisms if powered by springs or surgical tubing. Protect sharp/narrow pieces of metal in the bot. (we covered the exposed edge of that piece of sheet metal with pneumatic tubing slit in half. We also made a brace to keep the robot from firing if cocked and not on the field. We have also begun putting warning signs on dangerous parts of the robot.)

But what if one of those 16 year olds say leaves a key in a chuck, turns on the lathe and ends up losing an eye because of that mistake? Does your team have some sort of document protecting you and/or the school from legal action?

Until the springs fall out or get removed.