Safety Practicability in the Workshop

Safety is an ideal that we all attempt to achieve, by one method or another. Some people claim their safety is purely achieved through a state-of-mind – they concentrate on every thing they do so that there is no need for additional safety equipment (such as guards, splitters etc on tablesaws).  Others use more elaborate devices (featherboards, pushsticks, (yeah, really elaborate) etc).  Even more elaborate, power feeders, SawStop.

So at what point is it no longer practical to pursue absolute safety?  When it is no longer practicable.  This is a term regularly, heavily used in OHS circles – we do the best we can to ensure absolute safety as far as it is practicable.  And for our own workshops, we make this decision all the time, or choose to avoid it (which is more often the case).  What I would encourage of you, is to try to be as safe as is practicable – make that your goal – don’t avoid safety because it isn’t convenient, but apply the practicability test.  If it is practicable to do something, then do it – don’t avoid safety for any less reason.

So what is practicability, if you haven’t come across the term before, and particularly if you thought I was misspelling practical.

From the Free Dictionary:

Capable of being effected, done, or put into practice; feasible

An example they give to show the difference between practical and practicable is:

For the purpose of ordering coffee in a Parisian café, if would be practical (that is, useful) to learn some French, but it still might not be practicable for someone with a busy schedule and little time to learn.

From our world: “It might be practical for workshop safety to own a SawStop tablesaw, but for many of us, because of the price, it is not practicable.”

In other words everyone is different – their requirements are different, their skills are different, their financials are different, their risks are different. Safety in your workshop is not a one solution fits all situation, and for each person what they should be doing to be safe as far as it practicable is different.

Some people can afford SawStop, some can’t.  Must you have one to be safe?  It might be nice, but it is not practicable for everyone.  I pick on SawStop because it is a great safety device, out of financial reach of many, so makes a great example of the practicability of safety.

So be safe out there, as far as it is practicable.

%d bloggers like this: