I find myself a but concerned… In the Phoenix regional I was blown away on how much safety was stressed. Habits were enforced that stressed safe behavior although I do admit it may be redundant. Still 624 made sure that they were followed to the T. A few weeks later in the lone star regional, it seemed like night and day. The judges there found our practices so I have been told redundant and laughable which were stressed in Phoenix (for example, 4 carrying the robot at a time and using work gloves). At the championship I saw some rather… dangerous behavior. As I walked around the pit on my time off, some teams seem to think safety as a joke… I want to know if I was the only one who noticed this. I have more to talk about safety wise but… now I am being kicked out of the computer in the lobby.

I think 4 carrying the robot is more dangerous. It offers less control because it is an over constraint on the motion. There is much more likelihood of people applying their forces in competing vectors. Also, there is more uncertainty in where the robot is going because now 4 people get to argue over it instead of two people agreeing on it. Also, it is more space consuming when walking though isles or passageways.

Gloves can be quite dangerous too. They are much more prone to getting pulled into a gearbox or chain drive pulling the whole hand in. Also, wearing gloves offers less control over operating tools.

Really what you think is so common. This however does not make it correct. If you were involved with the work place were people lift, move, construct etc, you will find these practices not just practiced but mandatory. Why you ask?

Great question! Safety is stressed for 2 reasons. First is that people do not want others hurt. The pain involved with a bad back or loss of vision because of an aluminum shard are not to be joked with. I know that you are young and invincible. I was too at your age. I am now over 50 and paying for my stupidity. Back pains can come any time and sometimes you say I didn’t do anything. Well you are probably correct if you said now. What you did 2 weeks or months ago really caused the problem but the effects are not always immediate.

The people making the rules do so for you and companies. Companies and their insurance rates pay heavily if safety is not enforced. That is the second reason. Man hours lost cost the company which in turn costs everyone. Insurance rates sky rocket with every accident which means that product costs will rise. If product costs rise too much people will buy off of others and the company will lose business and…

You can see where I am going with this. Hey I think that sometimes safety is overstressed and common sense needs to kick in. I also believe that there is sometimes a risk that I take when I do certain things. Thirdly I know that I don’t always see the right way do do things and am glad of others help when showing and training ways to better my health. The rules that we saw at most regionals are the same as in the work place. If a safety adviser scoffs at someones effort then maybe that volunteer needs to be educated also. Safety is like robot building. Every team needs mentoring to grow. Every team member (volunteer) needs to be taught how to do things and learn the reasons for doing them if they are to excel. Let’s not slam safety but learn from each other and improve the over all health of everyone involved.

I too found that safety was somewhat inconsistent. At Regionals, (Philly and Trenton) safety glasses in the pit areas were pretty strictly enforced, and you would get stopped by FIRST staff just walking around, not near any equipment, and told to put on safety glasses. It was much less strictly enforced at Nationals.

After four days at Nationals, I would probably be suffering from permanent hearing loss had I not been wearing ear plugs all the time. What I find amazing is the uneven application of safety concepts. FIRST never has approached the hearing topic. I’m not sure, but my guess is that the noise levels in the pits and in the Dome exceed OSHA standards when you consider that most of us are exposed to that noise for 9 hours or more.

Don’t think that I don’t condone safety and safety glasses, I wear them all the time WHEN I’M DOING SOMETHING RELEVANT TO SAFETY. I also have used hearing protection religiously, and after 15 years of working in aviation and flight test, have no hearing loss. My concern is the strict enforcement of a rule, merely because it’s a rule, where other practices could use a lot of improvement. In the pit areas, teams (including ours, we’re no saints here) daisy chain together power strips to get everything plugged in, which generally isn’t a good thing to do.

On Friday, I watched a couple team members throwing a mini-football around, IN THE PIT AREA. Didn’t see anyone stopping them, even though one was running for the ball.

On Saturday, I saw a match get stopped at the beginning because a player wasn’t wearing his safety glasses. A ref caught it, the player put his glasses on, and they started the match.

Later, during the playoffs, I watched a mentor slide a robot battery about 50 ft, where it crashed into other batteries, and the teams toolbox. But, he had his safety glasses on when he did it. Just so everyone understands, these sealed lead-acid batteries will leak highly corrosive acid if the case cracks or leaks.

My suggestion would be to better define the areas where safety glasses are required, and raise awareness of hearing protection and noise exposure.


There is no doubt in my mind that the safety issue needs to be addressed. I saw a lot of kids running around the pits goofing off. It really is dangerous. Some think that it is just a big joke in the end. This thinking really has to be stopped.

By the way… what was with the safety tickets… did ANYONE actually use them let alone use them properly?..

Our team knew of some peoples concern about noise levels so we brought with us a box of about 200 ear plugs to hand out in the pits. Many people took advantage of them but not as much as I would have expected.

I believe we used the tickets properly. Correct me if I am wrong, but we were awarded tickets to fill out and hand in ourselves, but for each one were also given ones to hand to other teams. Since I am a very picky person about safety and not having time away from working on the robot, I only ended up handing out 2 of how ever many we got to other teams.

Safety glasses are important, but so is head protection. I was watching the event on NASA TV and saw a match on Curie where #301 fall over with its arm fully extended and whacked a worker on the skull. She turned and took several steps away from the field holding her head in her hands. The camera cut after this, so I don’t know how badly she was hurt.

NIOSH approved hard hats cost less than $10. They cost less, in fact, than good quality safety glasses.

I’ve posted this on Delphi several times, and emailed FIRST on this issue (without response). I am going to continue to pursue a goal of FIRST requiring hard hats for any game where hard, heavy objects are held over head level. The current Lego and VEX competitions would be exempted :]. To be zealous about eye protection while ignoring the risk of head injuries is foolish.

For what it’s worth, I couldn’t even convince the mentors on our team to make hard hats mandatory, but two students on 1294 did listen to me and bring their own.