From the archives

Several years ago, I was peripherally involved in a large-scale earthquake engineering project. Some of the experiments in this project used shake tables to simulate the ground motion of an earthquake. At about the same time, the Department of Homeland Security came out with a number of illustrated brochures (like this one) with safety tips for various situations. I borrowed some of those illustrations and created this set of safety tips for our project.

Welcome to the exciting world of NEESgrid! With NEESgrid software, you can run large-scale geographically-distributed earthquake engineering experiments — but first, please take a moment to review the following safety and operational recommendations.
Please do not store your collection of volatile chemicals on the shake table.
Actually, please don’t store any of your collections on the shake table.
Remember to use NTP to keep your system clocks synchronized.
Use caution when approaching structural engineering specimens — although they are often large, they are usually not full-scale. Don’t hit your head!
Despite appearances to the contrary, a wave tank is not a suitable habitat for most species of fish.
Protect yourself from falling objects. Post copies of this picture in several prominent locations within your lab as a convenient reminder that objects fall down, not up or to the left.
If you are forced to wear an ugly project t-shirt, you can minimize some of the resulting embarrassment by covering your face.
If you see any of these signs, you’ve probably wandered into the wrong lab again.
If you can’t afford an actuator and must apply forces to specimens by pushing on them manually, be sure to maintain proper posture.
Many large-scale experiments involve some amount of disappointment and frustration. Try not to give in to despair.
It is best not to sit or stand on the shake table while an experiment is in progress. However, if you must do so, remember to move your internal organs back to their original locations afterwards, using this diagram as a guide.
Many large-scale experiments involve some amount of disappointment and frustration. Try not to give in to the temptation to set the lab on fire.
Instead, consider dealing with these emotions by engaging in a less destructive activity, such as sneaking into the lab through an open window and stealing several pieces of valuable equipment. Don’t forget to hide your face from the telepresence cameras during the burglary.
The telepresence system does not support audio.
Don’t strain your voice attempting to shout loudly enough for your remote collaborators to hear you.
If your experiment involves bringing a specimen to “spectacular failure”, don’t try to put the specimen back together yourself. Instead, ask a friend to help you lift the larger pieces.
When preparing for an experiment, remember to take breaks from time to time to sleep (optional) and bathe, so as not to offend your colleagues.