Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ten Amputations A Day From Table Saws

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that there are an average of 10 finger amputations a day from the use of table saws. I heard this statistic on NPR today and thought, at first, that they said a year. 10 amputations a day…are you serious?!! USAToday has an article on this here. Many of these injuries are suffered by children in shop class. Obviously everyone knows that table saws are dangerous but when you hear that such saws are causing that many amputations, every day, you have to wonder if there is a safer alternative.

It turns out there is. Stephen Gass has invented “flesh-detection” technology under the brand name SawStop. I have no idea how this works but it is apparently so effective that Gass promotes the product through a demonstration where he places a hotdog on a saw table equipped with his invention. He then runs the saw into the hotdog and the moment the saw detects the slightest change in consistency it stops leaving barely a scratch on the hotdog.

The CPSC has gotten involved following the Power Tool Institute’s (PTI) request for voluntary rulemaking that never materialized. Now the PTI is arguing that SawStop, is too costly and not foolproof. I am guessing the former is the real issue.

At present there is only one table saw manufacturer that is implementing SawStop technology.

SawStop equipped saws are definitely more expensive, but the price is nothing compared with the cost and lifelong pain of hand injuries. CPSC estimates the cost to society of saw-related injuries is about $2 billion a year. (The industry has contested that figure in lawsuits.)

Now the companies face hundreds of lawsuits over injuries and at least 50 legal claims that SawStop could have prevented the injuries. Last March, a jury awarded $1.5 million to a man who injured his fingers on a saw under the theory that SawStop would have saved his hand.  This is something to keep in mind for Pittsburgh residents or students injured by non-SawStop equipped table saws. Share this post :
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1 comment:

  1. Everybody must take proper safety precautions before they are going to use such kind of tools.

    Carlos Saunder
    Table saw Reviews