Safety ideas?

This year is the second year for my team and my first year as safety captain (aside from my last minute step-in at last year’s competition). Either way we don’t have very much going on aside from the obvious safety measures. Last year I was able to ask other safety captains for advice but I realized that with the current situation, that won’t be possible. Any advice?

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Just googling “first robotics safety manual” will turn up a wealth of information, starting with as well as many teams’ safety manuals. No reason to reinvent the wheel…

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Thank you but that’s not quite what I meant. Last year I got some great advice that I have not seen in the manual (in fact I am currently about done with reading through it) I was just wondering if any older teams had things they’ve done or thought of that I may have not.

OK. Hard to know what you are looking for w/o specific questions. I will say this though:
Despite the length of most teams’ safety manuals, at least 95% of safety is:

  • Are you using proper PPE?
  • Are you using the right tool for the job?
  • Are you trained to use the tool properly?
  • Are you using the tool properly?

This and a zero tolerance for screwing around near robots and tools will go a long way towards keeping your team safe (won’t win any safety awards though).

That’s definitly understandable and thanks

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Some things I’ve seen safety captains do in the past:

  • raise money for team-wide CPR/first aid classes
  • learn about proper battery safety in the context of FRC batteries (including what to do in the event of a spill… because it has happened)
  • inventory PPE and first aid supplies and report when we need more
    • I count hair ties and ear plugs as PPE that should be provided by the team
    • I count an emergency stash of feminine products as part of first aid
  • improve visibility of “safety zones” in the shop (which was largely achieved by using hazard tape)

In the age of COVID, some other safety initiatives that would go far:

  • promoting proper mask wearing
    • creating team branded face masks could be a fun way to promote mask wearing
    • “over the nose” tends to be missed by many but without it, the mask isn’t doing anything.
  • Increased sanitation measures
    • Team branded hand sanitizer?
    • protocols for when to sanitize, what to sanitize, how…
  • Creating distanced work stations (if applicable)

There are many “above and beyond” safety things you can do without resorting to safety theater and I applaud you for looking to grow in your role.


You might look into what can be done to create and transfer a safety culture.

Safety training is great, but it teaches you the correct methods / approaches / techniques.
The issue is: Does everyone comply with the safety training, or are there gaps when short-cuts are taken?

Figure out a way to get everyone working as a safety captain - most importantly in what each person does - and you might be onto something!


For teams meeting on-line create guidelines to assure that use of the on-line tools can be done in a safe manner. For example, Zoom bombing was an issue earlier in the year.

What is the next on-line tool? What should be done to use it safely?

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There’s training and there’s compliance. As @p_h_argo wrote above, instilling a safety culture on the team - making everyone a safety captain - is not only good for the judges, but people tend to not get hurt. Which is the point. Once you have that, be sure to emphasize that with the judges.

Of course, the goal is to avoid getting hurt, not to win awards. But do the first really well and the second will happen naturally.


Our safety captain has a “safety snippet” each week for the team - a short presentation about a specific aspect of safety that team members need to know, such as:

  • Safety Glasses
  • Battery Spill Kit
  • Fire
  • Clothing and hair
  • lifting process

She also has a couple of initiatives designed to get everyone on the team involved with safety, rewarding team members for following safe practices and bringing safety concepts and ideas to the team as a whole.

Finally, she’s constantly looking for ways to expand her safety impact beyond the team - she’s presented to FTC and FRC teams on safety (In fact, she has a presentation at Jumpstart, a large training event being held virtually this Saturday!), and had a presentation scheduled with the school’s junior class that was, unfortunately, cancelled due to Covid back in March. She put together an effort to make and distribute masks instead!

Oh, and she put in good work on creating our Covid Safety Plan, allowing our team to resume meeting safely this fall.


One suggestion I have is to do some research on safety beyond the FIRST interpretation. Most of the FRC community has a highly superficial view of safety. I recommend researching the concept of a safety management system. It’s a safety program that is popular (and mandated) in aviation. Without getting on a soapbox, the goal behind a safety program should be to create an environment where everyone works together to identify hazards and implement controls to reduce risk to a comfortable level. I would love to see more teams understand how to identify hazards, categorize risk, and properly implement controls. Unfortunately, the focus always seems on safety theater because that is what those judges seem interested in.


This is what our safety team has developed over the years. If you are interested in learning more, PM me and I can put you in contact with our Safety Captain.

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Lobby FIRST to kill the safety award. It’s the single worst influence on safety culture in FIRST.


Even with only briefly scanning through it already looks helpful, thanks

Nah, it’s the second-worst.

Right behind misguided Safety Advisors/Judges.


Defund the Safety Advisors.


This is my first year as a safety captain as well. It’s a lot to get used to, but major props for taking on this role!

I did a seminar recently which talked about developing and maintaining a lasting safety culture within FRC teams (presentation link: Team 1073 Branded Safety Seminar Presentation (2020) - Google Slides). It may be helpful, but it covers a lot of the basics. I’ll be doing a more in-depth (30-60 min) safety workshop through the 24 Hours of STEM virtual event, where I’ll dig into additional Covid-19 practices that teams can begin to implement, as well as some 1073-specific safety policies. If you’re interested, I can email you the event schedule once I receive it. It takes place on December 18/19.

My team also has some safety resources on our website (, which will be updated to include Covid-19 items by the end of the month. I was lucky enough to be on a team with a long tradition of safety, but Covid-19 definitely provided a learning curve for us all. As a general rule, I’ve found that checking my state guidelines every so often is beneficial.

Hopefully this was helpful! :blush:

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Honestly, this is my first time actually doing safety stuff, last year we didn’y really have much order or anything so everyone did everything, then as we walked through the doors to our first comp, we realized we didn’t have anyone for safety, so it was extremely last minute.

Since it seems you are just establishing a safety program I highly suggest asking some of your mentors in industrial fields. They usually have to interact with their own safety department at work and might have some suggestions for you as well (like how they deal with covid and documentation). Most of your job is just getting the team to look at safety positively. You may want to start more of the paperwork stuff later, the first year with little to go off of is rough. Focus on training, PPE, and recording injuries. Great job on stepping up to be safety captain!

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Do you (or anyone else) have any ideas on how to encourage a team to actually care about safety? Currently I have a few select members who believe it is a waste of time or that it makes things more difficult, especially with the current situation, world pandemic and all. But basically they argue that they can’t work with foggy safety glasses because of masks and even though we’ve allowed masks to be briefly removed during work with large power tools etc (only if everyone is a large distance away), they’re still fighting me about this and I’m not sure what to do