The Philosophical Lessons of the Gotcha Stick

The Gotcha Stick is a simple, low tech device that measures the distance of barriers from moving parts in your machinery. If the barriers are at the right distance to keep people from reaching in and messing with the machinery, then they’ll pass the Gotcha Stick test and keep machine operators from getting hurt.

It’s very natural to think that it would be just as effective to tell people to keep their %^&* hands out of the danger zone.

Many facilities try this: they put up signs, send around memos, and shout, “Hey! Don’t mess with that valve!”

The National Safety Council tells us that some 89% of workers ignore some or all safety rules. And that’s just the stuff that they recognize as safety rules, which may or may not include “Keep your hands off this dangerous thing.” Many machine operators hear that as, “Keep your hands off my stuff.” Some may even hear it as, “I’m an engineer, so I get to tell you not to touch my stuff. Muahahahahahaha!”

The main lesson about safety rules, then, is this: it’s always easier to change people’s environments than to change people.

If you really don’t want people to touch something, erect a barrier and test it with the Gotcha Stick. Extend that lesson across the facility. If you don’t want people opening the cabinet to do things to the component, make the cabinet seriously hard to open. If you don’t want people to change the settings, make the changing of settings require a password — not special permission, but a special password that’s hard to come by. And so forth.

By the way, you can get yourself a free Gotcha Stick in exchange for a little bit of information about yourself. Just click on that link.

Safety is paramount in factories. Rexroth electric industrial motion control is focused on safety. In fact, safety is one of the areas where newer components have a real edge over older ones. If you’re using legacy parts and you want to keep them running, we can help. If it’s time to reevaluate your Rexroth systems and consider upgrading, we can help with that, too. Call us at 479-422-0390 for immediate assistance.

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