Safety help?

Hey guys, Mike here.

One of my teammates is a complete safety freak and she wants to know what other teams do for safety. Anything and everything is welcome. We’re trying to get ideas and tips to keeping our members safe and our shop a safer place.


Random thoughts:

Teaching safety to students I think is easier than adults. The adults are sort of set in their ways.

Establish rigid parameters as to when various things are done. For example when performing a power up test everyone has glasses on. Nearly all the students put on their glasses and obnoxiously glare at the forgetful or pokey one. Then do the test.

It is easy to tell who is accustomed to wearing personal protective equipment at competition. It looks natural on those that have been doing it all season long.

When in the shop, no dangly jewelry, no rings, no shirttails out, any long hair pulled back and neatly taken care of. People think this is trivial but it is NOT. I have seen near fatalities and serious injury because of these things. (Not in FRC but in industry.)

If your full team has a solid culture of safety, it will really show in competition.

This is the FIRST FRC manual:

This is our team manual:

Our team manual was created from an extremely modified safety manual written by Texas A&M University and was adapted with permission.

If you look at the 1st picture here you will see a large wire cart in the background. Our sign is on top of it. The cart allowed us to neatly organize our stuff in cardboard bin boxes. The cart now has a ‘metrovac’ vacuum mounted in the rack in order to keep the area spotless.

We have pit inspection procedures. We have someone perform the in pit and toolbox inspection every 2 hours at competition and periodically in our shop. Sounds silly but we found a hammer with a defective head that would have flown off and hit someone.

Preflight procedures - used to prepare the robot for competition. It takes care of both operational and safety issues.

Postflight procedures - used after a match, but before leaving the backfield area. Identifies defects to be repaired and most importantly makes the robot safe to enter a more crowed area. Things like pneumatic discharge, power disconnect, secure loose items, etc.

Discrepancy reports - used to change operating procedures and to monitor defects, and record incidents. That sounds bureaucratic but think of this. If there was an injury or some similar event you will be able to refer to what happened in case of an inquiry. This inquiry could come from a FIRST or school or other official.

Incident reports - this item is really defined by your school district. This item has to be done if certain things happen to school students. It will do double duty in conjunction with the discrepancy report above.

The picture of the cart, above, has a collection of marked boxes. By the time we got to Atlanta they were changed to 19"x12" corrugated nesting tray boxes that worked a lot better for us an was neater. On the right side of the second shelf you will see a pair of stacked tackle boxes from Walmart, about $20 each. There are great for creating an efficient stockroom of electrical, mechanical, pneumatic parts. Large parts in an a single box on the bottom shelf.

You will see a water bottle on the toolbox base. That is no longer allowed. We contended for Safety in Atlanta and lost to the fine AEP team from West Virginia. We got pinged for the water bottle. It is tough sledding at that level of competition.

If you look at the robot in picture #1 and again in picture #6 you will see the first picture has orange safety flagging tape attached to the platform legs.

Look at picture #5 at the person on the right with the yellow helmet. Notice how is back is arched back slightly and the legs bent. This is good form for lifting and is closely evaluated by the safety people. Use the legs to do the lifting. We had setup a practice court in a warehouse that had the court taped out, with entryways and a table where the operator position was. We practiced for 4 hours moving from the back area to the entry way, unloading and placing the robot and operator position, putting the cart aside, and then the reverse for removal from the court. That worked out to about 20 or more onfield/offield cycles.

Now look at pictures #6 and #8. Basically they are standing at ‘parade rest’. You will often times see students all excited bouncing around like puppy dogs in that area. That can cause operational mistakes and safety issues. The entire time they enter the field area, in the backfield waiting in queue, and at all times they are wearing gloves with one exception. That is when the operators are operating the robot and a few minutes before.

Robotics and competition is great fun but you can’t have a lapse of attention.

Good luck from #1311, Kell Robotics, UL Safety Award, Peachtree Regional

Our general policy is if you get seriously hurt, leave campus and then call 911, so the school’s not liable. :wink:

Kidding, in case anyone actually thinks I was serious there…

But anyway, keep a first aid kit easily accessible, and make sure people know where it is. Teach people the safe ways to use machinery (note: when teaching this, teach THE SAFE WAY, and say there is no other way to do it but this. Teaching what not to do will make them more likely to have the idea of the unsafe action in their head.) Make sure you keep the shop generally clean, so there’s no clutter to make it an unsafe area. Also, make sure you try and keep people relaxed in the work areas, because where’s there’s stress, an accident usually follows shortly. A good way to keep people relaxed is to emphasize that the shop area should be a laid back safe place, and maybe play some soft trance or relaxing reggae during shop hours (it’s what I do!)

Safety can never be over done, or over obsessed, on a FRC level anyway…

It’s a good thread to start!

Seriously, if you enforce this rule for all robot activities (demos, competitions, shop) then you will create an atmosphere of good sense and safety that will be very good for the team. A general rule is that if any robot related action requires the use of your eyes, then wear safety glasses.

Have a complete first aid kit at all times.
All kit items should be in a lidded box or bag. You should be able to open the container and remove the contents with only one hand (as your other hand is probably the one that is injured). Essential items: a bottle of rubbing alcohol, roll of surgical tape, antibiotic ointment (ex. Neosporin), gauze pads, bandaids, scissors. Also, open all the boxes and break all the foil seals before you put stuff away to avoid later struggles.

Be clean and organized.
This is just common sense.

Closed toed shoes.
This is an issue more for seniors who tend to wear sandals and flip flops everywhere. For the programmers and electrical people who argue that they never are exposed to the dangers of mechanical people: have you ever dropped molten solder on your foot? If not, would you like to?

Also I would like to add,

Wear pants that cover your whole leg as opposed to shorts. Jeans work well and are strong enough to protect you from some crazy scrapes that you would get otherwise.

Don’t run, jog, walk fast, etc. WALK. Especially if you are carrying something.

No horseplay or sports on the grounds. If anyone gets hurt playing football or something, you may even get in trouble by your district or your sponsor for not building bots and playing ball.

We use the resources from school, allowing our teachers to present the safety training they would for shop, i.e. films, lecture and testing. We do this during the fall robot class time so we don’t loose any build time. No one on the team is allowed to handle tools without passing the training. We follow that up with OJT and watching each other all the time. The establishment of safety procedures as outlined above is also used.

Kudos to your ‘safety freak team mate’. I love hearing this.

Encourage her to get involved in CD. She can ask questions that mentors and students would love to help her out with.

Jane I love this thread Young

She’s actually already registered here on CD (Momo675, iirc). The reason why she asked me to post is because I was already doing computer work during our team meeting and figured it’s be simpler for me to do it. I’m not complaining though.

Also, thanks to all for your help.

Since we work on a DuPont site we have to follow their safety rules, which I guarantee are stricter than almost anyone else’s. Prevention is the key. Beside all the rules and suggestions that have already been mentioned, we wear gloves and steel toed shoes in some instances. Don’t forget also that loose jewelry, hair, and clothing should be secured around poser tools. Most important, treat all power equipment with respect. Think about what you will be doing before you start. Don’t have any distractions and use the proper safety aides when needed.

When lifting, make sure you are not lifting too much weight and get help if needed. When you need to reach something stand on a proper stool or ladder - never on a chair. Don’t store heavy items where they could fall on someone. Make sure filing cabinets and shelves are properly weighted or bolted.

In DuPont they have a saying “Take Two” It means to take 2 seconds, 2 minutes, whatever it takes to think about what you will be doing and get the proper equipment before you start.

You should always keep a well stocked First Aid kit handy, if you have a large shop, try to put at least one on each side of the shop, saftey goggles, make sure that people are wearing them if they are in the shop, even if they are just passing thru or doing something that does not seem dangerous. Make sure that you have oil spill kits handy, as well as fire extinguishers. Gloves, smart move if you are using wood or anything that is sharp or that could cut you, but when machining, thats a no. Gloves should not be worn when working on a machine, jewlery too. And above all make sure that saftey supplies are easy to get to, and if you have a large shop that means you should probably have 2 or more of each. :yikes:

If you are meeting or building at a location that might not be familiar to all team members (mentors as well) be sure to point out the evacuation route. Be sure your location (room as well as address) is printed in large print next to the phone in the room so that even if someone grabs their cellphone to dial 911 in an emergency, they can read off the address! (Minds can go blank in an emergency so being able to read it is really helpful).

When traveling, if staying overnight in a hotel, the team safety captain and team leader should scout out a meeting location away from the building in a safe place, where the team should meet in case they have to evacuate, then communicate it to the team. The team leader will need to account for everyone if the hotel is evacuated (how many people have had to evacuate in the middle of the night? I have!). Team members should be reminded to check their rooms for the evacuation route which is usually posted on the back of the door. Keep in mind some team members may have never stayed in a hotel before and might not be aware of this. Remind them not to take an elevator!

The same rule should apply for evacuating a competition venue. Agree ahead of time where the team will meet if a long-term evacuation occurs (and unfortunately, it has. Several times.).

It’s helpful to prepare inexpensive business cards ahead of time with important team cellphone numbers, the name, location and phone number of the hotel, and give two to each team member - one to take with you in your wallet, one to put on the frig at home! Be sure your team members carry some form of ID with them to competitions (sometimes we leave purses and wallets behind without realizing we have no identification on us).

If you are on an event planning committee, prepare the emergency business cards with the chair’s name and cellphone number, as well as the phone number for emergencies (it’s not always 911) and the procedure, ie., “In case of an emergency, dial 911 from the nearest phone. Then call the event chairperson, John Jones, xxx-xxxx” or “In case of an emergency, call ext 430 for venue safety personnel.” Each volunteer should get one to carry in a pocket.

These things sound silly but if you ever had to use them you will be grateful you prepared ahead of time.

I’ll chime in here —
Safety is a verb – an action. Everything that is stated here will help drive you towards being a safer team. Safety really starts with changing your team’s culture around safety. As Carol stated abouve Dupont IMO is the industry leader in safety and has tremendous resources in that area. When we were part of Dupont (Conoco) we took a step change in our safety culture - not our rules. It is a mindset that no matter what ALL accidents are preventable. The Take Two program she talks about is very short easily understood concept - Take Two seconds to think about it before you do any task. We instituted a Behavior Based safety process two years ago and our students have really taken to it. Using this has really driven our team to change our culture in a positive way. This then spills over to the design and building. You’ll start to see people incorporate it into their personal habits as well. Once that happens you know you have been successful!

Let me know if this helps.


Largely, what my team did, keep tools of the ground. There is nothing more dangerous then someone with powertools falling.