9 Real safety gotchas that will stop your safety award dreams in their tracks

Here are our top suggestions for keeping you in the running for those valuable Safety Awards!

Image courtesy of Hyper_Charge67


1. Check your expiration dates

When expired items like Neosporin or baking soda are caught by safety advisors, teams are rightfully told that this is just unacceptable. Everyone knows that Neosporin and baking soda magically become ineffective exactly one day after their expiration date!

2. Make sure to plug your batteries

Even though the AndyMark Battery Flag is a configuration control tool (informing you that this battery is fully charged) and not a safety device, use them to block access to the uninsulated Anderson connectors on your batteries.  This will show your safety advisors that you're ready in case a nefarious character sneaks into your pit and sticks metal things into your battery wires.

3. Not having someone in front of your robot yelling ROBOT

While any reasonable person would think that calmly asking people to excuse them as they navigate around a crowded pit space would be the courteous thing to do, safety advisors will often stop your drive team and demand that they scream ROBOT! to make sure everyone around them knows they are being safe. Earlier we gave you some alternatives to the bellowing of ROBOT if you are so inclined.

4. Know your exits

Know them all-- every one of them-- by heart. The safety advisors are known for questioning you about the building exits. They just might blind fold you, have you spin around 4 times, and ask you to rattle off the venue exists in your disoriented state. It's best to stay up late the night before preparing for this interrogation.

5. Plan for every contingency

The tests don't stop with just knowing all the exits. The safety advisors might ask you for even more information. Hopefully you have consulted the local Office of Emergency Management for your event location because the safety advisors have been known to ask students for their team's emergency response plans for tornado or terrorist attack scenarios. Just to be safe, prepare plans all the big disasters like earthquakes, volcanoes, or sharknados... you get the idea.

5. Be in compliance with safety glasses rules that don't exist

Make you double check with your safety advisors about all your team's safety glasses. Advisors at multiple events have been known to make up arbitrary rules about color, side shields, and code standards. Just because event staff are wearing a certain type of glasses doesn't mean that you can too!

6. Make sure you prepare a presentation for the safety advisor

If you don't have a presentation, some advisors won't think you're serious about the award.  The role of safety advisor is a tough job and these hard-working volunteers demand to be entertained. Just being safe around tools and teaching your team to understand and evaluate risks isn't enough; you should prepare a 3 act play about how you train your entire school in OSHA standards.

7. Wear gloves while using a band saw (DON'T ACTUALLY DO THIS)

Please learn proper power tool safety and be able to question authority figures if you believe that they are incorrect. Real safety advisors have told students that they should be wearing gloves while operating bandsaws and other machine tools-- this is untrue! Discuss the issues with the safety advisor, bring one of your mentors into the conversation, and possibly get the volunteer coordinator if the issue can not be resolved.  Don't do something unsafe just because a volunteer tells you to.

8. Make sure your team doesn't wear shorts

As if safety advising wasn't hard enough, some safety advisors have taken it upon themselves to start being the FRC fashion police as well. They have been known to tell students not to wear shorts, jewelry, and jackets, even when these students are not working with power tools. 

9. Don't turn your robot on in the pit

Teams have been told on many occasions that basic system checks and functional tests while in the pit are unsafe and should be performed on the practice field. Clearly it's safer for 60+ teams to all use a 15 x 40 foot practice field at the same time.

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