I believe it is difficult for anyone to accurately quantify what is safe for you. Please allow me to explain my view:
I use razor sharp Japanese knives. Most people that I cook for, or that watch me cook, comment on how those can't be safe. I made the switch over 10 years ago, and so far, I still have all my digits. I have shaved some skin off my knuckles (yum!), but I haven't made it through enough flesh to seriously bleed or hit bone (yet). And for larger dinners with friends I will drink - a lot - when I cook. Yay me!
Still, I think this practice is perfectly safe for me. Just as I find frying with oil in large, open cast iron skillets to be perfectly safe for me.
So with that said, I recently (in the past year or so) have started using this method of covering a skillet with paper towel while I fry bacon. I don't get the pan hot enough for the paper to combust, and I typically use a high-wall 10" or 12" skillet, which keeps the paper well away from the burner's flame.
I prefer this to the other forms of splatter reduction, including:
- Using a Standard Lid. Way, way too much steam buildup, which brings water into the pan of grease for a very unhappy tim (even if the lid is left "cracked" on the pan to allow most the steam to escape).
- Using a Mesh Splatter Guard. These work ok, but have two main drawbacks: 1) if you don't own several sizes to match your pan sizes, they can be cumbersome; and 2) they are more of a pain to clean (especially when compared to just throwing away a paper towel).
- Microwaving Bacon. It comes out ok, but it's just not the same. I get such a better crunch and variance in consistency when frying bacon (especially in cast iron).
- Not Eating Bacon. This is just not an option.