Safety is no Accident
While the VEX development system itself is not inherently dangerous to use, anyone working with metal parts and tools needs to have a safe attitude and work in safe ways. The most important aspect of safety is to think safety at all times. It is well-known in workshops that safety starts with being aware of your work space and being sensitive to dangerous behaviors and materials. Purposefully use safety gear and follow safe practices to insure your own well-being.
Safety is not just about following rules, it’s about doing work in a way that is safe. Most of the time if you think you are behaving unsafely, you are. Stop and think before you act. The most important safety tool of all is your head. Remember: your attitude affects your behavior. If you have a positive attitude you will likely exhibit safe behavior. A negative attitude toward safety will cause carelessness, inattention, and injury.
Before working on your robot, go through these steps in your mind:
- Do I have necessary safety gear such as safety glasses and hearing protection?
- Is this the safest way to do this task?
- Am I using the correct tools? Using the wrong tool is frequently more dangerous than using the correct one.
- Are the parts secured correctly when cutting or bending? Use a vise or clamp – not your fingers.
No horseplay! Workshops are no place for irresponsible behavior such as running around, “swordfights,” throwing parts, or pushing people.
Always wear safety glasses when cutting or bending structural parts.
Wear safety glasses, even if you wear normal eyeglasses. Unless you have had them specially made, eyeglasses do not offer sufficient protection from shrapnel or flying debris, and do not usually protect the eyes against debris coming from the side.
Always wear safety glasses around operating robots, and any time a battery is hooked up. Moving robot mechanisms can “sneak up on you” when you do not expect it.
Wear hearing protection when using power tools such as a Dremel or grinder. It does not take much noise to cause hearing loss.
Study all safety rules carefully and constantly apply them. When in doubt about any task, get help! DO NOT take chances!
Read, understand and follow the safety instructions that come with your tools. Complete safety rules for power tools would take hundreds of pages, so please refer to your tool’s manual or the OSHA power tool safety guidelines at http://www.osha.gov.
Always dress properly for the shop. Avoid wearing loose fitting clothing, tie up or cover long hair, and remove rings and other jewelry when using power tools. Do not wear gloves when operating power tools.
Watch your hair, fingers, and tools around robots. Even the plastic gears and chains in a VEX robot can cause painful injuries if you are not careful. Long hair is especially dangerous around operating robots so keep it under control.
Be aware of what others are doing. Safety is everyone’s responsibility – both individually and collectively. Report unsafe conditions or practices.
Keep the shop clean. Metal scraps should be disposed of in a waste bin or recycling container. Never allow scraps to remain on the bench or floor. Removing trash and debris reduces slipping and falling and generally promotes a safe work environment.
Learn how to use your tools properly. It is foolish to operate tools without first receiving proper instructions. This applies to even the small power and hand tools used in VEX robotics. Get help if you are not sure what must be done or how a task should be performed.
Keep the VEX parts out of your mouth, ears, nose, etc. It’s a robot, not a snack.
Do not short out the batteries by running a wire between the battery terminals. This can cause fire, ruined batteries, and/or explosion.
Use batteries wisely. Do not lick batteries, or put terminals in your mouth. If a battery appears to be leaking or has a crystalline deposit on the outside, dispose of it immediately and wear gloves – preferably made of nitrile or other non-reactive material – when handling.
Dispose of worn-out batteries responsibly and safely. Do not throw batteries into the trash, especially rechargeable batteries. Contact your local waste disposal office for information on battery disposal. Batteries should be stored as directed by your local hazardous materials disposal office until pickup, usually in a hard-sided, waterproof, non-conductive container, such as a plastic bucket.
Antennas are not a toy. Do not use them as whips or swords, and do not put them into your mouth, eyes, ears, or nose. If the blunt tip breaks off the tip of your antenna, dispose of the antenna and replace it with a new one.1)