VEX Robots and Safety

Safety doesn’t seem to matter much in VEX, until you figure that losing even one eye can be pretty major injury. So today’s thought question is, what safety rules do YOU think should be in place for a middle school and high school VEX robotics program?

I’ll throw in the first one: anyone working hands-on with the robot needs to wear eye protection.

Personally, a good pair of work gloves is always a good idea. Not just does a slip-resistant pair give you great grip, but also it prevents injury from cuts and burns (I’ve experienced way too many and am currently looking for a good pair of gloves. Having hot, freshly ground metal burn you and an axile go into your finger wasn’t too fun).

At tournaments, I don’t think its too necessary, but when in the pits and working on the robot in general it does help.

Close-toed shoes, and jeans or something to cover the legs wouldn’t be a bad idea. I cut myself on 418 numerous times, and that was usually because it was on the ground and scraped my leg while wearing shorts.

what about a good file set, the cuts and scratches that can happen because of a freshly cut piece that never gets the attention of fileing and vices for when the cutting happens. i cannot begin on how many times ive told teammates that cutting i piece verticly and between thier legs is going to severly hurt themselves

Well for a program the safety rules should be simple, but relaxed.

  • No Food or Drinks in the Workroom
  • Wear Goggles when cutting/filing/trimming a piece of metal or when testing a new component. (I find it a pain to wear safety goggles ALL the time during a building period)
  • Know where the safety equipment is. (First Aid, Fire Blanket, Fire Extinguisher)

I feel like beyond this, there isn’t really much. Of course the standard for cutting are a given. (Use clamp, etc. )

I can speak from personal experience, DON’T use the Dremel bits that shred themselves to pieces as you cut. Go buy a diamond bit (cuts better anyway).

And ALWAYS use eye protection when using a Dremel (and many other tools).

Never use a Dremel Cutting Disk! Even with Vex Glasses and gloves, because at 10,000 RPM the disk is a hazard if it gets caught on a metal part and shatters. Use a hack saw instead.

Always wear gloves and Vex Glasses when using battery powered tools such as electric screw drivers and drills. The torque produced by an electric screw driver could cause a metal part to hit the contestant, hobbyist or a nearby person.

All of our students must pass a safety test on each of the equipment/tools that we use before they are allowed to use them.

Same at my old school. We also required a 100% to pass the test.

“Safety” can be a funny thing… our school board, for instance doesn’t install alcohol hand sanitizers in the school in part because the gel is flammable. But they don’t seem to have a problem with paper…

Likewise with VEX you can see a safety hazard if you look hard enough, but very few things that would cause permanent injury. Eyes are the “soft spot” that we can focus on, and if you use a dremel tool… well, follow the dremel tool safety precautions. That isn’t really a VEX issue, it is a “using a little machine that spins a brittle disk of abrasive at insane speeds” issue. Use a hacksaw and file and you’ll be fine.

About the most significant VEX-related eye safety issue I can foresee is getting an eye poked by an antenna… something that will soon be a non-issue as wi-fi controllers take over. But honestly… my students probably take a bigger risk crossing a major street to get to school than they do building VEX robots.


I think gloves are unnecessary, because it is very hard to work on a VEX robot while wearing gloves. Also, there should be very few sharp parts on the robot and any burrs or sharp edges created from cutting a piece should be ground off immediately after cutting the piece.

Safety goggle definitely need to be required for using a dremel or any other tool. Safety goggles can become cumbersome while working on a robot, so I think they should be suggested but not required. All protruding parts of the robot, such as an axle or small c-channel should be painted a bright color or have a bright flag-like thing on them.

Safety goggles are worn when doing metal working (cutting, snipping, filing, shaping) under an adult Mentor supervision. Driving the robot requires goggles due to the antenna “whip” effect. That will go away once vex net is everywhere.

The only rule that I really enforce is the “Work on the robot on the table not on the floor”. It’s enforced for two reasons, one is having people sprawled around a robot on the floor creates a huge tripping hazard. The second is that on the off chance I need to get down on the floor to consult/look at the robot, the issues around me getting back up without having a stroke are higher than I want to deal with. :rolleyes:


When a gear or other item under stress breaks, shards can fly a looong way.

Pressurized air can send things flying.

Wear safety glasses always when the machine is in motion, energized or pressurized.

Low-speed, high-torque, motorized devices can move dull metal with enough force to slooowly and painfully shear off a fingertip.

Keep your fingers out of the machinery when the computer is turned on or the pneumatics are pressurized.

Hacksaws can slide and bounce out of grooves and can make a nasty ragged cut.

Wear gloves when cutting.

Do I have to also talk about grinders, files, etc. ?

Use the right equipment and procedures for each job you do.

PS: If this sounds grouchy - That isn’t the intent - The hope is that folks will simply use glasses and gloves because they are easy, simple and useful -Not because they hhaaavvve to :slight_smile: