It is our mission to ensure that everyone in our shop leaves in the same shape that they arrived in. We strive to make safety our highest priority.
The RoboHawks begin their year in October with RoboHawk University, commonly referred to as “RoboU”. This program features classes in a variety of fields, as well as a day-long segment on shop safety. In this class, we discuss everything from wearing gloves when carrying heavy objects, ALWAYS wearing safety glasses, and even how to clean the rare bad battery. After the discussion, students are brought to the shop and have mentors show the proper way to use each machine or tool before then demonstrating this themselves. We require a safety contract to be signed by both student and their parent to be allowed to use tools in the shop after this date. We now certify students based on levels of machine difficulty. Their certifications are shown on visibly worn badges, so that mentors can verify quickly that a student is able to operate certain machines.
In the Shop
Year-round, we like to keep the idea of shop safety in each team member’s mind. We do so in ways such as keeping hair ties for those with longer hair to pull it up, placing our own safety rules on each machine, and requiring at least two students on each machine (buddy system). We were generously donated a “gumball” dispenser to allow students to have immediate access to ear plugs if they work on loud machines. Members of the RoboHawks also have lanyards to rest the safety glasses around their neck so they may not “forget them” if they take them off in another room. We created our own Instagram page called Safety In First to share ours and other teams safety successes, along with the #SafetyInFIRST hashtag.
At the Competition
Since we’ve been doing this fifteen years, we know during intense times, teams may brush off a scrape or cut without thinking about it, but we would like to change the stigma that hygiene and safety don’t matter when you have a robot to build. During competitions, we provide every team a small first aid kit consisting of band-aids, gauze, and ointment and tips on how to best keep their team members safe. Every event, we bring a dispenser to supply hearing protection to those in the pits. Our safety captain introduces themselves to rookie safety captains and shows them a powerpoint we created full of good tips and rules for them to follow to build their own well-running safety program. At the safety captains meeting held with judges, we perform a demonstration to show the most effective and safest way of cleaning up a battery spill.
Check out the Safety Presentation we display in our pits.
Head over to the FIRST Robotics Competition Safety Manual for additional safety information.