US Consumer Product Safety Commission Faces Challenges in Requiring Safe Table Saw Technology

Every year, over 4,000 Americans suffer finger and/or hand amputations due to table saw accidents, making the table saw far and away the most dangerous woodworking tool. Technology making table saws much safer has been around for around 15 years, but has been largely ignored by governmental safety bodies despite the technology's demonstrated success. Physicist Steve Gass, inventor of the SawStop finger-sensing technology, estimates that his product has a 99% success rate in preventing amputations (see the video on the right to learn how SawStop works).

In 2003, Gass petitioned the CPSC to raise the safety standards of table saws by requiring the use of finger-sensing technology in all table saws sold and used in the United States. On 9 August, 2017 he reappeared at a CPSC public hearing. "You commissioners have the power to take one of the most dangerous products ever available to consumers and make it vastly safer," Gass said at the public hearing. "And yet, here we are over 14 years later after this petition was initially filed, still engaged in a glacial process with an uncertain end. There's no time left to waste."

Earlier this year, the CPSC issued a draft of a proposed rule creating a mandatory standard requiring table saws to have sensing technology that could stop a blade before it amputates a limb or causes otherwise serious harm. Industry group The Power Tool Institute has already spent tens of thousands of dollars this year lobbying Congress against this rule. The rule is currently up for public comment; after analysis, it will finally be put up for vote. In the meantime, an average of 10 Americans per day will continue to lose fingers in preventable table saw accidents. Read more here.



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