F’ing Safety (Fences and Fallbags that is)

What did you think I meant? 😉

If a danger in the workshop can be represented by a cliff, then a fence at the top would be a very good idea.

And a fall bag at the bottom.

Safety equipment in the workshop are the fences, and the fallbags.  Some prevent the risk occurring, some protect us if it does.

A featherboard is the fence, safety glasses the fallbag.

A machine guard the fence, workboots the fallbag.

But is all safety equipment polarised between these two definitions? There is a third type though: what happens if leaping off the cliff was necessary, mandatory, inevitable?  Rather than replying on the airbag, the third type of safety equipment is the parachute.

Some safety equipment deals with the fact that the danger is inevitable, and seeks to mitigate it, without being able to prevent it.

So the mental exercise from this is twofold. First, think of all the different things (and actions) that can be regarded as “safety”, and define them as one (or combinations of) fence, parachute and fallbag.

Then, think of the various risks and hazards and decide whether a fence, parachute or fallbag (or combination of) is the best way to deal with it.

I’ll get you started: dropping a chisel off the bench towards your foot requires a fallbag (the foot now being in harm’s way wasn’t assured when you went out to the shed, but that you have tripped over the cliff means a fallbag would be rather beneficial).

Cutting MDF requires a parachute.  Dust extraction and/or dusk mask is that parachute.  Hearing protection is a parachute, safety glasses the fallbag.

An interesting mental exercise – not only does it mean you are identifying risks and hazards in your workshop and practices, but also deciding whether you are using the right combination of risk mitigation.  Perhaps you are relying on a fallbag, where a parachute, or even a fence would be better.

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