Safety Week Friday (Cost)

Safety costs.  There is no doubt about that – you cannot do it for free.  You can perhaps do it cheaply, for example you can make a reasonable air filter if you buy the correct filter material, and pass air through it, air will be filtered.

Some people can make something like this very easily, and have it work well.  Others may not be so confident, or be time poor, or just simply want a commercial version.  That is often what I tend towards.

Irrespective, safety costs.

Not being safe costs so much more.

When I was first getting my motorcycle licence so many years ago (I was 15 at the time, so that makes it…uh, something approaching 30 years ago) there was a simple line in the guide to getting your licence.  If you cannot afford the safety gear (helmet, gloves, boots, leather jacket & pants, or riding suit), you cannot afford to ride.

Pretty hard lesson.  The motorbike at the time cost me about $300.  The safety gear to ride it would cost over $1000.  So I didn’t start off with the whole lot, and got what I needed to mitigate the most risk.  A helmet, welding gloves, solid footware.  A heavy jacket and jeans: although that would not have been sufficient in a real accident.  Fortunately for me I got away with it, and by the time I had a couple of significant accidents a few years later, I had invested in the gear I needed.  So I broke some bones, but the gear did its job.

In a workshop, a similar concept applies: all the safety gear is needed without question, but there are some safety items that you shouldn’t enter your workshop without.

Where you draw that line is really case by case – I don’t know how you use your workshop to be able to give a definitive answer.  However, some items should be:

dust mask (disposable or otherwise)

eye protection

hearing protection

solid footwear

—————- this is a line.  This is the minimum I have when I go to work in someone else’s workshop.

push stick


—————- now I can use a tablesaw or router table with a minimum of safety (this is assuming the saw has all the normal fittings, guards, fence, mitre gauge etc)

And so on.  When you get sick of always cleaning up the mess, add a dust extractor.  You may be able to not use a dust mask if you have a really good dust extractor, and air filtration.

So to the final surveys: just what has it cost?  Measured two ways: total dollar figure, and percentage of shop value.  For something like a SawStop, count the value as the difference in cost between that machine, and the nearest equivalent without.  My saw is a pretty good one, worth around $2400.  The quality of it is not dissimilar to that of the full SawStop, worth around $7000.  So I’d say the safety mechanism on the SawStop costs about $4500.

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