Tying back hair in the pits at competition

This is a very major pet peeve of mine, and not sure where or how to address it. Anyone whose hair is long enough that when they walk by or bend over a robot, it touches it, should be tied back so that cannot happen. Preventable injuries are just as likely from this as those prevented by safety glasses OR closed toed shoes. I saw at least three to four people pushing robots at Central Valley regional last weekend where hair was definitely :yikes: touching robots.

This can be addressed very professionally with the Safety crew (Green shirts). Politely walk up to one and mention what you saw and your concerns and they will ensure all of the teams are informed. Sometimes as a student, other teams don’t want to “listen”, as they were never informed of the hazzard on their team. If it comes from the Safety Crew, it will be addressed and corrected.

Good Luck everyone competing in Week 3 and beyond

Sometimes people’s hair is tied back though and it still is long enough to touch the robot when leaning over to push it on the cart… What would you propose then?

P.S. I am one of those people and I know it is a super safety hazard… Help!!

Some of our girls tuck their hair into the back of their clothing. It may look slightly strange but it is better than the girl who didn’t tie her hair up, leaned forward into the drill press and had to get someone to free her. There was also my schoolmate in high school who lost a patch from the front of his afro (it was in style at the time).

Braids, buns, or doubled-over ponytail folds. Another thing that works is tucking those long ponytails or braids into the collar of your shirt while you’re in the pit. (I’ve had hair down to my waist during competition season before.)

-Slightly-off-topic rant-

Something that hasn’t been touched on in this thread that’s really important:
Don’t EVER touch someone’s hair, body, clothes, etc without their permission. (Unless they’re about to get in caught in something, or there’s an imminent danger. Then, obviously, save them.)

My team was just talking about this over the weekend. I’ve had students/mentors on other teams, but most often Safety Advisors, grab my long hair and start to hold it back, while I’m simply standing there in the pit - yelling at me to tie my hair back. *Dude, seriously? *There’s nothing happening right now where my hair is going to get me hurt. I’ve seen it happen to others, and it’s happened to me, both as a student and an adult mentor.

It’s a serious invasion of personal space, which is something I’ve noticed our community is sometimes pretty bad at (mascots, ‘free hugs’, etc.), and it has to stop. It is not your ‘right’ as Team XYZ’s safety captain - and especially not as an event volunteer - to, in any way, get into a team member’s physical space in the name of safety.

Talk to them about it. Use your words. Keep boundaries well-respected.

**Slightly-off-topic rant over. Continue discussion. **

zip ties…they work

This is slightly off topic, but also very important. In addition to long hair other things to mind while working on the robot include: those two strings that dangle off sweatshirts and any type of jewelry that could dangle down into the robot. those things can get caught just as easily in the robot and cause really bad injuries. The solution is simple, just tuck the dangling item under your shirt, but its easy to get caught up in what you’re doing and forget!

We have a mandatory ponytail policy for girls in the pits or on the field (including me!)

What about a proactive approach - a display with free ponytail holders and a warning about the dangers of hair entanglement?

Part of a safety culture is recognizing appropriate precautions. The only people that really need their hair tied back are people actively working on a robot. Anybody not actively working on an enabled robot should be far enough away that the robot cannot reach out and grab them. If not they are not working safely. A crowded pit is more dangerous than loose hair.

Not to say tying your hair back as matter of policy isn’t a good idea.

Long hair in the pits isn’t that bad. Long hair while using power tools or having your head stuck in a robot is.

On our team, we have a general rule about hair - it must be safely tied back of your in the machine shop, using power tools, or using soldering irons (I really hate the smell of burned hair). This extends to the pit at competition… If your working on the robot, you need to have your hair properly stowed. If you’re there programming, or as a pit presenter for judges, or just talking to spectators, it just isn’t important.

And anyone that forgets to bring something to tie their hair back with gets a zip tie. It may not be a super fashion statement, but it’s effective!

It makes you look like an engineer! How is that not a fashion statement?

Along the lines of what Libby and others have said-

One often overlooked aspect of Safety is the “Boy Who Cried Wolf” aspect of enforcement. If practices irrelevant to particular situations are crammed down someone’s throat, they can be desensitized to the importance of said practice when it is actually needed.

As pointed out above, if there is not a an obvious hazard (such as sticking your head in a robot) we should be respectful of other people’s space.

This same advice applies to similar situations in the pits. The classic case of shouting robot incessantly, even when the robot does not have an obstacle in its path. Additionally, things like removing your safety glasses in a safe area, to clean/defog them.

This is not picking and choosing when to enforce safety, its using common sense to avoid desensitizing people to ACTUALLY dangerous situations.

If you are a team member, trying to point out a safety issue to a member of another team, please remember to be polite and make a suggestion- not an order.


Thank you all for bringing this up our team tends to go with a theme every year and this year we might need to bring some extra attention to some of the costuming details.

I always love it when safety advisors recommend wearing gloves…yeah, that’s not going to happen.

I do get annoyed when someone tells me to wear my safety glasses when I’m obviously cleaning them. How safe is it to wear safety glasses when you can’t see out of them?

I actually get a lot of flak for wearing my normal glasses even though I got them so that they are rated for construction sites. They come with side shields and everything yet somehow someone always comments about it. Does anyone know if we are expected to wear traditional looking safety glasses if our prescription ones are already up to par?

Regarding long hair:

I’ve competed with extremely long hair in the past. Pony tails, braids, and buns usually do the trick of keeping you safe. If you experience hair that occasionally falls over your shoulder or if working in tight pit constraints, tucking hair into your shirt has always proven very effective for me.

To Libby’s “Slightly-Off-Topic Rant”

I really appreciate you highlighting this! Teams, please, lets keep this event safe, fun, and comfortable for everyone.

Volunteers, even as a referee I forget to put my safety goggles or you may not see my side guards. Do not grab! Do not put hands in my face! A simple reminder usually gets glasses on fairly efficiently. :slight_smile:

Kindly be respectful of everyone’s personal space!!


Too many people (team safety captains and event volunteers will completely invade someones space and then get mad at the person because they just violated them. I don’t see it as a professional behavior to walk up to someone and tell them they need to do something now or grab their hair and put it in a zip tie for them(yes I have seen it). Long story short, be respectful and use common sense when you politely ask someone to correct what you think is a safety concern…

If you have ANSI Z87 rated prescription glasses, with clear lenses and side shields, you shouldn’t need an additional layer. The only exception would be scenarios where you’d want lab-style goggles, and those are generally prohibited in the pit anyways.

“Thanks for your concern. These are prescription safety glasses.”

Besides untied hair, wearing lanyards and ties in the pit is another hazard that is often overlooked. These are no different than wearing necklaces or long, dangling hair.

As others have stated, I don’t think that untied hair, lanyards, and ties are not an issue if you are not actually WORKING in the pit.

And yes, we should all keep our hands to ourselves when asking people to tie back their hair. I can’t believe that even has to be said. Ick.

I’ve been wearing my prescription safety glasses this year. I paid for them, I wear them working in a factory they are good enough for a FIRST event.