California Closer to State Table Saw Regulations

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.

– Robert W. Lang

52 thoughts on “California Closer to State Table Saw Regulations

  1. Paul

    i have put all but one of my T/s’s in secure storage, as future investment! As for Sawstop, They couldn’t give me one!

    “Nothing is Impossible, just Takes a Little Longer”

  2. AerographerE8

    The following was taken from the US patent office web site “For applications filed on or after June 8, 1995, utility and plant patents are granted for a term which begins with the date of the grant and usually ends 20 years from the date you first applied for the patent subject to the payment of appropriate maintenance fees. Design patents last 14 years from the date you are granted the patent. Note: Patents in force on June 8 and patents issued thereafter on applications filed prior to June 8, 1995 automatically have a term that is the greater of the twenty year term discussed above or seventeen years from the patent grant.” The first SawStop patent was filed in 2001 and issued in 2005.

    As for the government legislating safety protection there is one difference in this case as opposed to say seat belts or motorcycle helmets and that is in those cases there were more than one manufacturer so costs were held in check.

    I have never used a SawStop saw but have seen the videos of how it works online and would like to have that technology available on every saw, however having it legislated is wrong. I can eventually see someone challenging the law or somehow getting the US Govt. to look at the monopoly involved.

    A well written blog piece on the Osario vs Ryobi case that brought this all about.

    http://randomscrub.blogspot.com/2011/10/of-table-saws-and-lawsuits.html

  3. riooso

    Can we say “state sponsored monopoly”? Sawstop Saws are over priced units that will never come down in price. There is no competition and assured to stay that way because the owner is a slimebag lawyer.

  4. planbbob

    Get the government out of our lives; they are seriously overstepping their boundaries.

    Regardless of how many laws they pass, you can’t regulate STUPIDITY!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Bob Franklin

      Rant all you want. The table saw companies look to people like me, those who have MONEY and are spending it. Customers want new and improved safe saws. Sawstop is selling and selling well because of people like me not to mention shops/factories that want to demonstrate a commitment to safety to their insurance companies. Sawstop is kicking butt and everyone in the business knows it. Others will follow or fade away.

      So, old timers and whacko government conspiracy theory types may raise a stink online, but they don’t represent where the money is. Face it, all the SawStop = Communist types are dinosaurs and while you may speak your opinion, it doesn’t count much at all. The only voice that counts is with your wallet. Sales and marketing baby. Deal with it.

      1. Bill Lattanzio

        I have to agree with you. There has been very little mention of what these injuries end up costing every year. According to the statistics from the website link it’s near 2.3 billion dollars annually. I can guarantee that at least part of that money ends up coming out of taxpayer pockets. The real dinosaurs are the tool manufacturers who have done little to improve the safety of the table saw in more than 50 years.
        Somewhere around 33,000 table saw injuries per year, every year, consistently since the records have been kept. 450,000 in the past 15 years roughly. If it’s stupidity then there must be a lot of stupid woodworkers. It’s even more foolish to think that insurance underwriters, and our government for that matter weren’t going to notice those numbers. For those crying conspiracy and collusion, sure, you can say that what Sawstop is doing is unethical, I might even agree. But I’m even more surprised that with injury numbers as consistent as these happening for as long as it has that something hasn’t been done sooner. Conspiracy? I would like to know what the lobbyists for the other manufacturers have been doing for all this time. From what I understand they have been adament about not doing anything for years. Makes me wonder a little.

      2. katz_jd

        SawStop has only a tiny market share, which is logical, since the price difference between it and the competition is around $1500 for a 5hp model.

        So if we use your criterion (show me the money), SawStop doesn’t make the grade. After all, why spend $4300 for a SawStop when you can get a better saw (Powermatic) for $2900? And this doesn’t count the $100 a pop you’ll put out if the SawStop should hit a small amount of moisture in the lumber you run through it.

        Your confidence that SawStop is the “future” is based on nothing but sentiment. If it it represents the future it would be out-selling Powermatic. It isn’t, and I doubt it ever will.

  5. JimAspin2

    So does the CA law also restrict the resale of used table saws and the use of table saws that are already owned that do not have this required technology? If so why? If not why not?

  6. Bill Lattanzio

    I think the best way to counter-act this law, if you are so resolved, is to not buy a new table saw at all. I generally like safety regulations because I’ve seen first hand several times what happens when they aren’t in place. But if it comes to the point that I need to purchase a new saw and must GET a Sawstop style, if I cannot afford one I won’t buy it. Simple as that. I might not be happy about it but nobody is forcing me to woodwork. I don’t golf for a hobby because it’s simply too expensive. If woodworking, or any other hobby comes to that point, it wouldn’t be the first time.

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