New Table Saw Safety Regulations Proposed

Listening to the radio on my way to work this morning, I overheard this story:

Should you decide not to listen to the 5 minute segment linked above (although it’s definitely worth it), a brief synopsis from the NPR site:

NPR has learned that federal regulators are taking steps toward new safety requirements for table saws. These saws have open spinning blades and can cause severe injuries. But the industry is resisting additional requirements.

table sawThere’s quite a bit of information discussed in the story that our readers are likely already familiar with, as there has been quite a bit of real and virtual ink spent on this topic (including related to Rob’s editorial from our most recent April Fool’s Day eZine – once again, IT WAS A JOKE … at the time … ).

However, it would appear that there continues to be wind in the sails of this movement.  What are your reactions to this latest information?

Matt Becker
Internet Production Coordinator

PS – If you have opinions that you’d like to share with the Consumer Products Safety Commission, below is a link to send them your feedback:

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  • Douglas A Menning

    We do not need to legislate safety. If the government would get out of the educational system maybe people wouldn’t be so stupid that they get injuried by products. If you make the choice to use any piece of equipment, it is your own responsibility that you learn how to use it safely and properly. If you aren’t intelligent enough to discern wheter or not a piece of equipment is too dangerous for you to use, you should not use it. If the manufacturers wish to gain market share by building better and safer equipment they should go ahead and do so. Maybe we should pass a law against stupidity, but we could never pass such a law given who has to vote to pass it.

  • Bob Pinkerton

    This ends up being a political issue based on whether you are contemptuous of people’s inherent sensibilities – or not. Personally, I have limited need for additional regulation to protect me from myself. The gentleman who started all this with the infamous law suit has a lot to answer for. His conceding that he removed safety devices and was using the saw in a manner that even he considered unsafe had no effect on the outcome and created yet another expansion of liability. I know its not in the constitution but what happened to the notion of personal responsibility?

    If drunk drivers commited to only killing themselves and handgun abusers to only shooting themselves, I’d say we could revise those laws, too. How you use a table saw to inflict damage on anyone other than yourself is beyond me. This would suggest we don’t need regulation in this area especially as the flesh-detecting technology is protected by patent. What is the government doing establishing de facto monopolies?

  • Dave Barkdoll

    Give me a break! Yes, table saws are dangerous if not used correctly. Although the article attempted to step around it, it did sound like a saw stop promo. What’s next, a similar device for chain saws?

    A quick scan of the internet for injury statistics on other equipment came up with this for 2009:

    630 Killed
    51,000 Injured

    If the Feds were really concerned about our personal safety they should either outlaw bicycles or mandate safety pods with gyroscopic stabilization.

  • Vernon Cooper

    When is enough government? You cannot protect people from themselves. The biggest problem is that the Government has screwed up our schools so badly that thinks like woodshop, home economics, drown proffing, and other classes that taught my generation how to make a cut in both wood and a roast without cutting yourself.

    What is next, plastic guards on knives which will be able to tell the difference between chicken skin and ours so that the many millions of people who cut themselves, some seriously, each year in the kitchen will stop?

    If government would stay out of industry and business we would have more new inventions, they would be cheaper, and they would work better instead of the government telling us what we can use, how we can use it, and any othyer function of life they can destroy.

    What this country needs is less government, more common sense, and fewer ambulance chasing lawyers so everyone would work out differences without court. Like we used too.

  • Dave Gandy

    When I was in the fire service, some idiot proposed a new rule concerning what to wear in a grass fire. His requirements were passed. When fire officials confronted this man, he admitted that he knew nothing about fighting fire, he just read about it and figured he knew exactly what to do. Our government at work.
    The same holds true with the table saw issue. I want to be safe using power tools. But that is up to me, not the government. It is my responsibility to know how to use the tools I have safely. I don’t need or want the government telling me or anyone else what I have to do. If I have an accident, it is my fault and nobody else’s. Is the government going to pay me for my mistake, even if I use a power tool they have reconfigured to be safe? I think not.
    I’m a woodworker and I don’t need Big Brother telling me how to do a job they know nothing about. Keep out of our workshops.

  • Mike Gipson

    Say what you will about regulation, the bottom line is a SawStop cabinet saw saved my 20+ year experienced carpenter from losing his thumb and whatever bits might have gone with it…and my organization a couple of hundred thousand dollars in rehab.
    If you’re not using a SawStop saw, you’re a damn fool.

  • 4000 people each year have TOTAL AMPUTATION of digits and hands from table saws alone? I have to question the number!

  • Carlos Dominguez

    I would like to start hearing less about less, more, bigger or smaller government and start hearing more about companies and corporations doing the right thing. Yes I think it should be mandatory in industrial situations to use the SawStop type technology. And unless a company adheres to ethical practices it won’t upgrade to safer methodology unless it is legislated by our government. An employer who makes a profit from his workers should provide the safest possible environment to work in. For the hobbyist and solo pro it is advisable but not legislated that he work in the safest possible environment. I’m taking delivery of the 3HP professional model at the end of July.

    I’m a hobbyist and a ‘want to be’ solo pro and it makes sense to me to use the safest equipment possible. It’s been documented many times that you can be doing everything right and safely and still cut off part of your body.

    We need to quit the macho rhetoric about “don’t want government in my shop”, “government telling me what to do” and “I know better”. Come on people what about UL. And, I may be wrong on this but, weren’t seat belts, padded dashes and airbags legislated before everyone came on board.

    I agree with Mike, “If you’re not using a SawStop saw, you’re a damn fool.”

  • Dave

    While the technology may only add $100 to a saw that has been designed to accept it, that doesn’t take into account that the saw has to be completely redesigned to accept the technology. It requires a different method of raising and lowering the blade which isn’t a problem if your designing a saw from scratch, but when you have an existing design changing it is quite the undertaking. Additionally, when the blade is abruptly stoped a ton of energy from that spining blade is disipated into the frame of the saw. Entry level table saws would have to be beefed up considerably or you run the risk of the saw frame wrecking itself during the stop (in other words you replace the saw, not the brake cartridge).

    Then think about the power this would give the saw stop company… Guess what Dewalt, you can’t make table saws anymore because I don’t want to license my invention to you. If you are going to make the technology manditory, that should void the patent protection. I bet the SawStop people’s tune would change then.

  • Michael A. Neil

    I’m an old man hobbiest of the old school, using pre and post WWII machines. Personal responsibility for safety is vital. Safety legislation is not. I ride a motorcycle and consider it very foolish not to wear a helmet, and I vigorously objected to California enacting mandatory helmet legislation. (My view did not prevail.)

  • Jake Pick

    I guess I am just a 70 year old fool.

    I have never used a guard on my table saws. I have seen many people injured with the use of them simply because they put too much faith in them. I would suggest you research what happens when the Saw Stop in activated and stops the saw. That unit is out of service until the mechanism is replaced. If that is forced on to the site portable table saws it will be disabled very quickly. Those folks on site using them have an attitude of time is money and they can’t afford for a major piece of equipment to be out of service. If you don’t believe me just go to a local construction site and see how many blade guards are pinned back on the hand operated circular saws, safety pins removed from nail guns and the list can go on.

    Why is that done you ask, we no longer teach common sense in the school system. It is more of the dumb down of America.

    The greatest safety device that can be used sits on your shoulders, when it is used the greatest majority of those accidents will be eliminated. Now when do you think the government is going to tell you to start using your head, probably never as that would cost the politicians money and votes.