While proposed standards for table saw safety move slowly through the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s rule making process, the State of California moved one step closer to enacting legislation that would require “flesh detecting technology” on all new table saws sold in that state beginning in 2015, according to a July 4 story in the LA Times. Last week, AB 2218 was approved by a state senate committee and will likely be voted on in early August. Only one manufacturer, SawStop, makes a saw that would comply with the rule at this time. As with the proposed federal rule, the proposed California law was introduced as a result of lobbying efforts by the owner of SawStop. SawStop holds numerous patents on the technology in their own machines, as well as broader patents that would make it difficult for other manufacturers to comply with any rule, state or federal, without entering into a lengthy and expensive legal battle. SawStop has been unable to reach any agreements with other manufacturers to license the technology.
While this law would only apply to California, other manufacturers would be faced with giving up sales to a large segment of their market, or to develop technology to meet the requirement, then face legal challenges about the relevant patents. An earlier LA Times Story details the lobby efforts of both Gass and SawStop and the Power Tool Institute and large retailers.
Table saw safety is a serious issue, and we’ve been following the issue closely for the last few years on this blog. There are other issues that come into play as a good idea and a technological breakthrough gets closer to being government mandates. Your thoughts are welcome in the comments below.
You can find earlier posts on table saw safety here.