Safety Award

Over the past few years, my team’s safety has gone very far. In the past 3 tournaments we have competed in, we have received at least runner-up. I was wondering if there is any way a team can win the safety award at both regional tournaments that they play in. Especially with the changes in how the safety award is being judged this year.

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Be safe. Be ready to explain how.

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Where I am no team has won safety in both of their competitions, I was not aware if it was possible.

Get a crew with shields to escort your robot and push people to the sides, that’s what the team that won it last year at one of our events did


Is there anything that says you CAN’T win at both competitions? Unless I missed a change this year, the only awards you can’t win at multiple same-level competitions (e.g. multiple district events, multiple regionals) in a year are RAS, EI, and CA.

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I obviously can’t speak for all regions, but there’s a team here in Ottawa that has made winning the safety award their thing, and they won it at both their district events, as well as at the Ontario DCMP, in 2019.

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That’s why i was asking, I don’t think there is anything that prevents it but no one in our region has ever done it, it might just be something with the judges here.

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I was a lead safety judge last season as part of my work with UL.

As far as I know, there is no rule preventing a team from winning the safety award at multiple events in the same season.

That said, I can’t think of a time in my years in FRC where I’ve personally seen it happen.

Being able to effectively explain how your safety program is woven into your team culture is the biggest single deciding factor. Innovative approaches to safety thinking and team wellness also go a long way from what I’ve seen.

Obviously we are also always looking out for team behavior at the event itself. Randomly yelling ROBOT every three steps isn’t safety - instilling a culture of moving the robot responsibly from pit to cart to field is, etc.


Our team has won the Safety Award at multiple competitions in a season. Last year we won it at our two District Events. A few years ago we won it at both our District Events and District Championship.

This isn’t an easy accomplishment though because it requires creating and maintaining a strong safety culture that your team lives out day to day. It’s more than just appointing a Safety Captain and having a binder–it’s about all of the little things you do every day and the ways you keep improving on it that will set you apart from the other teams and make multiple awards/season possible. We have a dedicated sub-team just for safety and they are always meeting and coming up with ways we can step-up our safety game. If you want more information on how we do what we do with Safety, let me know and I can put you in touch with our Lead Safety Engineer. You can also go to


Tell that to the safety advisers. For nearly 20 years now, I’ve been hearing them tell students and my self that we all need to shout robot as loudly as possible and push people out of the way.

I don’t want to derail the thread, but the whole structure of safety advisers, awards, ‘all stars’ and so on has nothing to do with safety anymore, if it ever really did. It’s become a big convoluted platitude, and I’m not sure who it’s aimed at. The ever growing examples of outlandish safety theatrics is a direct result of FIRST rewarding it.

End the safety theater. End the UL safety award.


Safety 3rd.


I can’t speak for any changes in judging this year, but generally speaking, it’s possible to win it multiple times. 1622 - Team Spyder has consistently been winning 2-3 of them a year. The last time they only won 1 safety award in a year was 2014. In fact, the only year they haven’t won at least a single Safety Award was their rookie year in 2005.

They work incredibly hard to get those awards.

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Obviously I can only speak to my own experiences, but at least at the various events I was helping out with last year, there was a noticed and intentional trend of volunteers, safety advisors, and venue staff actively telling teams to stop with the ROBOT thing. It was also specifically called out in a blue box in one of the safety manuals I was working out of last season, which if I can find, I’ll share here.

The current safety manual for 2020 encourages “When transporting your robot, politely keep pedestrians alert to your movement” and to keep aisles as clear as possible at all times.

I personally agree that safety theater isn’t to be rewarded and specifically avoided doing so last season on a number of occasions - it’s far better for me as a judge to see teams handling unique well-being issues like positive peer reinforcement (making wearing eyes/ears an expectation) and not working tired than it is to see which team can buy the most hi-viz traffic vests which make no sense in an indoor setting anyway. Obviously making sure they are safe at the event, do comprehensive tool training, know where their first-aid kits are, etc. is expected for winners of the award.

Steps are being taken to unify the general criteria and understanding of what safety is and isn’t. The new safety portal has standardized training available for all types of industrial safety topics: that’s available to all teams.

There are a number of teams that do see value in the safety award, and certainly in the District model, there is a very tangible reward for winning it. Much like the rest of FIRST, it’s a work-in-progress. That’s just my two-cents though.