California Considers Table Saw Law

California assembly member Das Williams has introduced a proposed law that would make the sale of new table saws without active injury mitigation technology, illegal. As written, the law would take effect January 15, 2015 and defines the requirement as:

“technology to detect contact with, or dangerous proximity between, a hand or finger and the teeth of the blade above the table top of a table saw, and to prevent the blade from cutting the hand or finger deeper than one-eighth of an inch when the hand or finger approaches any portion of the blade above the table top at a speed of one foot per second from any direction and along any path. Notwithstanding the prior sentence, active injury mitigation technology may be temporarily deactivated by a person so that a saw can cut material which would otherwise be detected as a person.”

The proposed legislation can be found in PDF format at this link

The federal government, through the Consumer Products Safety Commission, is in the process of considering proposed product safety requirements with similar specifications, and will be holding hearings sometime this year. While this law would not directly effect sales of table saws in other states, consumer legislation in California often has an impact beyond the borders of that state. Documents from the CPSC regarding this matter can be found at this link.

Popular Woodworking Magazine has written extensively about this issue, and related blog posts can be found here.

–Robert W. Lang

62 thoughts on “California Considers Table Saw Law

  1. chelluh

    Calif. The laughing stock of the nation, again some knot-head in Calif government is spending time trying to figure out how to cost us more to live here, instead of focusing on bring jobs and company’s back, they are still trying to get them to move to Arizona, Nevada, Mexico (where I will buy any new saws).

  2. lary_s

    Frankly, I can’t believe how anti safety regulation some people are. Have we all forgotten black lung, asbestos, love canal, child labor, cars without seat belts, the great reduction in the cost of anti-lock breaks when they became more available, the horrible working conditions in the 1800 & 1900′s, all the people working in horrible conditions today because their governments don’t have the regulations we do, etc, etc. ??

  3. HRC

    I find it hard to believe anyone supporting the government – state or federal – becoming involved in legislating safety. OH, sure – you welcome the safety aspect. But it never stops there with the government. It will lead to more restrictive ways to control our behavior and choices. Eventually they find a way into our pockets to either penalize us for not complying or forcing us to pay for someone who can’t quite afford to comply … and everyone will have to pay for everyone to have a SS Tablesaw. You have seen it happen before if you are over the age of 15.
    As I said before …. Safety is a personal issue and should be left there without government intrusion.
    If you don’t understand …. put on the damn helmet!

  4. David4444

    This is just yet another example of lawyers making law just for the sake of making law. This law (like many others) border on the premiss of litigating morality, which everyone knows is impossible. It waists time and the peoples money. In my humble opinion because it is so “anti American”, I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t have Das Williams arrested for treason. It would be interesting to see how THAT is handled by our infamous law makers.

  5. comotion59

    There are people out there that is looking for the free ride on stupidity. All the regulations can not fix it. The men and women that do woodworking as an occupation or a hobby and take pride in it. Know the risks and dangers. All the safety warnings in the book that comes with the equipment. If you do not read and understand them you should not be operating the equipment.

  6. HRC

    The government is WAY too involved in controlling our lives already. From Taxes to Safety (MUST wear helmets, MUST wear seatbelt, MUST refrain from cell use in vehicle, MUST not use table salt, MUST maintain certain BMI, MUST , MUST, MUST). No one on this site or any other is against safety. What we are against is gov’ment intrusion. What we are FOR is personal responsibility and freedom. We used to have the freedom to choose how we maintain safety while driving AND the level of safety we were comfortable with. To mandate SS technology is to provide new and sometimes veteran woodworkers with a false sense of built-in safety. As my grandfather used to say, “As soon as you call something ‘fool-proof’ along comes some fool to prove you wrong.” Safety is a personal matter – not a government mandate!!

  7. bjohnson4889

    A couple of you have hit on the key points in this debate:

    lary_s said; “I a few years the superior product – at not that much more cost will simply be the best buy out there.” Exactly! How many saws are made today without riving knives? We hadn’t heard of them a few years back. Did it take legislation to force the manufacturers to add them to their saws? No. It took market pressure and competition.

    noeINNY said; “… Would an advertisement for the medication showing a sick child be called fear mongering? Maybe by some, but I would be first in line to get the medication for my kid.” Exactly! And it would not take legislation to force you of pharmaceutical companies to do so. Common sense, competition, ethics, and market pressure would take care of it.

    There are others, but I’ll stop there. My point is, all of the reasonable arguments FOR this legislation are really arguments in favor of improving safety. While all the reasonable arguments AGAINST this legislation are really arguments in favor of improving safety. You’re all saying the same thing – tools should be safer AND users of these tools should be more careful!

    The question here is not safety. The question is whether or not improved safety should be mandated by law. Those teachers and mentors you lost respect for (Bill L) most likely take safety as seriously (if not more so) than you or any of the rest of us. We need to keep the emotion and self pride out of this discussion and simply address whether or not legislation is required to protect tasble saw users from serious injury.

    Personally, I mangled two fingers using a molding head cutter on a table saw nearly 30 years ago. It was a terrible mess – and expensive. Had SawStop been invented at that time, I would have still had same the accident because I would have still been using my 50 yr old Delta Homecraft saw (now replaced). All I really needed to avoid this serious injury was a push stick! I was ignorant of that at the time. Now I know. But my point is, no amount of legislation would have saved my fingers.

    If you you think a SawStop or similar technology is required to protect your personal safety or that of people who work for you, by ALL means, buy one – or several! If you think you can avoid serious injury through the use of proper safety devices (push sticks, etc) and safety precautions (never putting yourself in dangerous situations while sawing), then contnue to use your favorite saw. In my humble opinion, the Government (Local, State, or Federal) is not capable of making that decision for me.

    ps. The moment someone manufactures a food processor with blades that will not cut a finger, I’m calling my lawyer and State Representative to insist they develop legislation requiring “active injury mitigation technology” (I just love that term) on all food processors. Oh wait, someone already invented such a gadget? I’m thoroughly disappointed in my elected officials! ;-)

    1. Bill Lattanzio

      I agree with some of what you are saying, and I hate to harp on this subject or berate anybody, but I believe you are still missing the point. This legislation is mainly about promoting workplace safety from what I know about it, not about what goes on in your garage. Unfortunately legislation like this also needs to include everybody because you just can’t assume anything anymore. I have no doubt that the editors of Popular Woodworking are safe woodworkers. However, I do feel that some are making an assumption that everybody reading their magazine knows everything about shop safety. Some have gone as far as saying that they’ve been doing this for 20 years without incident. Last I checked there are 25000+ table saw injuries per year so this is happening somewhere. Many subscribers to PW, including myself, are amateurs. I am fortunate enough to have work experience in manufacturing and construction. I’ve also seen people lose fingers, hands, once an arm, and believe it or not several feet. These injuries were sometimes the result of carelessness, or just bad luck. But all of them could have been prevented had every safety precaution been in place. Several people, including you, have stated that SawStop can’t prevent every woodworking injury from happening. You’re absolutely correct. But it’s a step in the right direction.
      The table saw can be a dangerous tool, maybe the most dangerous power tool in a woodworking shop or jobsite. You state that you should never put yourself in a dangerous situation while sawing. Great idea. Go to a jobsite and see how that works. While doing electrical work I can sometimes be in dangerous situations. If somebody invented a ladder that would greatly reduce a fall off or a panelboard that would never electrocute me then sign me up, and if the state makes it mandatory even better. While that may not eliminate every danger it is just one less thing I have to worry about.
      More to the point, from what I understand about this legislation it only includes saws sold from 2015 on, not current saw owners,though maybe I’m reading it wrong. Even less of a reason for everybody to be up in arms.
      Lastly, and I’ll repeat myself. Somehow SawStop is being portrayed as the bad guy. Are they promoting the heck out of their technology? I’m not sure but I would think so. They are only doing what every other company in the country does, right or wrong.I personally don’t own one because my current table saw works fine, but if and when I do need one I’ll tell you that I’m looking at only one manufacturer. And that’s not simply for the safety. By all accounts SawStop makes perhaps the best saw on the market. I only hope the PW magazine tells people that, instead of worrying about some perceived invasion of privacy.
      Again, I do respect your opinion, but I’ve seen enough in my life to know that many workplaces aren’t safe, including the home shop. I only wish there were more companies like SawStop who make top quality, safe equipment. The woodworking world would be better for it, not worse.

      1. gumpbelly

        “Lastly, and I’ll repeat myself. Somehow SawStop is being portrayed as the bad guy. Are they promoting the heck out of their technology? I’m not sure but I would think so. They are only doing what every other company in the country does, right or wrong.”

        Bill if you would please list the other tool manufacturers who have sued companies, and gone to the Fed to have their widget forced upon anyone buying a new saw then all of “US” will probably just shut up, and state that well it is what every company in America does. That is the point I`m making, this is not a marketing campaign that Mr Gassssssss is on. Make no mistake, this is a greedy lawyer who has loosely patented his product so that no one can effectively compete against him, and he now has courts in his pocket, and soon the government branch in charge of product safety, all put together with a string of misinformation that he just cares about your little fingers. If he was so altruistic he would give them away like a Diabetics Glucose monitor, and just charge you for new pistons once you have allowed the thing to go off.

        “These injuries were sometimes the result of carelessness, or just bad luck. But all of them could have been prevented had every safety precaution been in place.”

        Admit it, you even feel if safety measures were followed you wouldn`t need SS technology. The key word as usual is “need”. A person can safely operate a TS without flesh sensing technology, but you need to use the given between the ears safety mechanism.

        BTW RN for close to 30 years now, with supplemental income all along the way since I was a tender 14 in the building trades, so I`ve seen it from both sides of the street.Safety is a conscious choice, and try as it might the .Gov cannot mandate that.

        1. Bill Lattanzio

          I don’t know what Saw Stop does on the corporate level and I don’t care. I know that their saw will go a long way in keeping jobsite carpenters from coming home with less than 10 fingers. As somebody who works in an ER you should also know that this can and will save millions of dollars yearly in medical bills and disability. In the ER have you ever seen somebody try to run a piece of oak stair tread through a table saw blade with 50,000 board feet because the GC doesn’t want to buy new blades? You are making the mistake of thinking that all accidents are somehow the result of stupidity or carlessness.
          You’ve worked in the building trades? Wouldn’t you as a former builder want every safety precaution possible on a jobsite? I can’t see why not. I wear safety glasses nearly every day. A decent pair runs $20.00. At the least they can keep dust or debris out of my eyes, at most they can keep me from going blind. Should I not wear them if the government mandates them simply because I don’t like being told what to do? Or is this all a matter of cost? Should safety only be considered when it doesn’t cost too much?
          For somebody who works in an ER you have a somewhat callous mentality concerning injury. When somebody gets hurt it’s his own stupid fault I guess. That guy who woodworks as hobby or is a carpenter on the job must be a fool if he gets hurt. One brief split second of distraction, especially on a jobsite where you can be distracted by a multitude of things at any given moment, can cost you alot. Doesn’t mean you have no brains or are a fool. It does mean that you work at a potentially hazardous job where people can and do get hurt and even killed everyday. My point was and is that on jobsites every safety precaution isn’t in place, and that usually isn’t the fault of the worker.
          What you or I do in our home shops is not being held in question here from what I’ve read. I will admit that maybe I’m misreading the proposal. But it’s my understanding that this only concerns saws sold from 2015 on, not current saw ownership. I am still wondering why this bothers some of those who write for PW magazine. This is my main issue. People like you and I, whatever our opinions are, don’t influence thousands of woodworkers. My question was and still is how does this somehow affect Popular Woodworking Magazine? At least one person there thinks it does.
          You sound like you know much more about the legality of this issue than I do. Nothing in the corporate or political world surprises me. But if they are doing the right thing for all the wrong reasons I don’t care. I do care about people who work for a living. And I do know that it makes me feel at least a little better that they may have a little more protection than they do currently.

          1. bjohnson4889

            Thank you Bill L. You’ve just stated the obvious in favor of those of us who feel the Government should NOT pass this proposed legislation. You said, “…I wear safety glasses nearly every day. A decent pair runs $20.00. At the least they can keep dust or debris out of my eyes, at most they can keep me from going blind. Should I not wear them if the government mandates them simply because I don’t like being told what to do? Or is this all a matter of cost?”.

            I haven’t read any comment here or anywhere else that suggests we should refuse to buy or use these “safe saws” if the Government decides to legislate such. You really are missing the point. You wear safety glasses because it’s smart to do so. You may even be required by your employer to do so. If so, GREAT! If your employer (or any employer) chooses to require an employee to use a SawStop or similar saw, GRERAT! If ther employer makes this choice because his/her insurance company provides a significant premium discount for doing so, GREAT! And if, sometime after 2015, you want to buy a SawStop for all the right reasons when you need to replace your current saw, GREAT! However, if I need to replace my Shop Fox saw in 2016 and find that I’m forced to pay $2,500 (or whatever it might be) for a SawStop or similar saw, rather than another perfectly good Shop Fox saw (essentially a Grizzly), NOT great! Yes, it is about cost in addition to my personal dislike for people (legislators and lawyers) who believe they can FIX every problem that’s ever occured with another law. I bought the Shop Fox (but, feel free to substitute any other reasonably priced, well made saw on the market) rather than a Delta Unisaw because of the price difference – pure and simple. I don’t resent anyone who does feel the price difference is worth it at all. It should be your choice to choose and spend whatever you want based on your own personal priorities. At the same time, it should be my choice to choose and spend whatever I want – free of Government intervention. That’s why every tool review you read lists 10-15 different manufacturers and models. The “Top Pick” is almost always the most expensive model – of course. That’s no surprise. But, the “Best Value” is never the most expensive model – sometimes, in fact, it’s the lest expensive.

            I’m going to bow out of this conversation now. I’ve said far more than I intended.

            1. Bill Lattanzio

              Well I will definitely agree with you about saying too much because I’ve said way more than I intended. I can’t say enough that my issue isn’t with home woodworkers it’s with job safety. The unfortunate thing is that it will affect some home woodworkers who may be looking to buy a new table saw.I don’t want to see that but I am willing to live with it IF it makes workplaces safer. Bottom line.
              As I’ve said: How does this affect Popular Woodworking Magazine??? Because unless I’m really misunderstanding things it has been heavily implied by some of the staff that it does? And when I ask that I mean in the woodworking sense? There seems to be some implication that this law will somehow ruin woodworking. I would like to know exactly how. And not just “It will make table saws too expensive” cause last time I checked nearly all quality woodworking tools cost alot.
              I was in the army once. When we got issued body armor I didn’t know or care if the company who had the contract to provide it had some shady side deal with a politician. I only cared that the armor would work if somebody took a shot at me. That’s the same way i feel about the saw. If it protects workers I’m all for it. If this law somehow destroys woodworking as a hobby then I’ll be the first to eat my words. I hope it doesn’t and I don’t think it will.
              I don’t care what anybody does in his/her home shop. I hope everybody is trying to be safe. What I do care about is laws that protect working people at work. Not everybody does and that’s fine. It’s not always easy to see when it doesn’t affect you directly. And i understand that as well.
              All that being said, I have no hard feelings towards anybody. My main question was and is: Why is Popular Woodworking Magazine seemingly so against this? Cause between the lines that’s what I’m reading. And like you said, I’ve said way too much and truly hope I didn’t offend.

              1. nurfays

                If only I was responsible and knowlegable enough to make my own decisions about safety and which saw I should buy (the legilation does not distiguish between homeownership and industry). . . thank god for the lawyers in our government who obviously know so much better than everyone else about how everyone should live. I just hope they come out with some kind of law limiting rope strength so I don’t accidentally hang myself!
                BTW – If I did not feel safe at my worksite I would either do something to GET safe, or QUIT and find another job – not expect the government to make up even more laws!

                1. Bill Lattanzio

                  You would do something to get safe or just good old get up and quit. Why didn’t I think of that? In fact, I’m going to take everything I said back. Let me just tell that to every Soldier, Marine, Policeman, Fireman, Miner, Steelworker, Carpenter, Logger, Electrician, Farmer, Commercial Fisherman, Lineman, Maintenance man, Mechanic and about two dozen more professions. You know what boys and girls, you all work at jobs where you may get hurt or killed on any given day, just quit. That way we can all sit home and write blogs on the internet. Does that work for you?
                  I can’t even believe that I need to explain this in a country that was founded on workers rights. What a joke.

          2. gumpbelly

            Bill you seem to be very upset with Bob Lang who has done nothing more than keep us up to date on what is happening in a legal case, and now a .Govco action at the highest level that will certainly affect the new tooling we can buy. Following is the link to all of the posts Bob has made so far. I ask you to please cite chapter and verse every time Bob says DO NOT BUY A SAWSTOP.

            http://www.popularwoodworking.com/tablesawsafety

            I`m pretty sure you are going to dance around the topic like you did when I asked you to let us know all of the other companies who are doing business like SS and Mr Gasssssssss are.

            This will be my last tinkle in this flow. This entire argument is as futile as a gun control argument, instead of blaming stupid people, doing stupid things, we blame the gun. The saw has become the gun of 2012. No responsibilty, somebody has to pay because I`m stupid, the American Dream…………… Where`s my $$$$$$$$

            1. Bill Lattanzio

              I’m actually not upset with Bob Lang at all, he is probably my favorite writer on the staff. If you can show me something negative I’ve said about Bob Lang point it out and I’ll take it back with an apology to boot. But their are two in particular that I do have a gripe with.I won’t say who. Shame of it is that I do respect their woodworking very much.Neither of them ever said to boycott SawStop. What they did say is that SawStop will possibly ruin woodworking as a hobby, both directly and indirectly. When you make a statement like that you should back it up with facts.You may as well say that anybody or company that makes a tool that is safer, better, and innovative is bad for woodworking because one day it may become the industry standard and cause all other manufacturers to rethink their product line. At least that’s my opinion.
              I certainly don’t have a problem with you. I posted my opinion and you reponded to it. Whatever I said somehow offended you personally.I’m not sure why. I do take offense to you calling people stupid for getting hurt. People get hurt at work all the time, sometimes because they are foolish, sometimes simply by bad luck. But to make a blanket statement that anybody who ever got hurt woodworking must be an idiot is idiocy in itself. I fortunately have never had a serious woodworking injury(compared to others) and still have all of my fingers, that doesn’t make me any better or worse than anybody else, although you seem to think it does.
              I’ll be the first to tell you I have no idea how tool manufacturers run their businesses and I honestly don’t care. I don’t read Forbes or closely follow the stock market. I can tell you almost for certain that Haliburton and Exxon run their companies the way you describe and many consider them great business models.
              I’ll go even further and say that I don’t even care about SawStop. I’m just happy that somebody invented a safer/better tool. If they went out of business tomorrow I would still have to go to work. It would just be my hope that another manufacturer would come along to take it’s place.
              My only point in this whole drama was and is that safety regulations at work are a good thing. It wasn’t so long ago that many thousands of people were killed or injured at work every year because there were no regulations. If you haven’t noticed there are some in government who want to go back to that. I know nothing at all about Das Williams. He may work for SawStop for all I know.I do know that making tools safer on jobsites is an important thing. It’s a shame that some home hobbyist looking to buy a table saw in the future may be forced to purchase a SawStop or similar style saw. I don’t want to see that happen or see SawStop as the only option on the market. But I am personally willing to live with it if it helps lead to a safer work environment.

              1. Robert W. Lang Post author

                I just want to point out that even though the Osario case that set off much of the publicity on this issue was a workplace accident, the proposed government regulations are about consumer protection, not work place safety regulations.

                If you look at the statistics, it becomes clear why CPSC is taking action on this and not OSHA. The number of table saw injuries that take place on the job are a tiny fraction of the number of overall injuries.

                Most table saw accidents happen to people who also happen to fit in the largest segment of our reader demographics; hobbyists in their 50s and 60s, with less than two years experience using their table saws. As a magazine, we do not have an official opinion on this issue. Personally, I believe that the majority of accidents (and the majority of SawStop “saves” can be prevented through better education. The proposed regulations do nothing to address this.

                Bob Lang

                1. Bill Lattanzio

                  I’m sure you are absolutely right about those statistics. As I said previously I only can tell you what I know from personal experience. For 10 years I worked at a corrugated paper manufacturer in operation and maintenance. We were not a woodworking shop in the least but we did have two cabinet saws and at least a half dozen band saws among other power tools that we used to cut plywood for shipping cases and other general duty. In my time there we had at least twenty “major” injuries involving power tools. One of the injuries I know for a fact ended up costing a co worker much of his hand and the company hundreds of thousands of dollars. These men weren’t stupid or ignorant or inexperienced. They were guys who were working all day in a loud, noisy production environment. They were working in often hot conditions, sometimes they were tired because they had worked a long week. I know every one of them would have been very happy had there been flesh detecting technology in place. At the time the technolgy was fairly new to the market.
                  Now in the ideal world every company with a table saw would upgrade it to a SawStop style saw because it’s a safer saw. But in the real world that always doesn’t happen, and if you think it does you would be wrong.
                  I also have worked as a field electrician and seen more than my fair share of EXPERIENCED carpenters get hurt on the job. These guys were hardly stupid or careless and it’s an insult to say otherwise.
                  You say that many of the injuries happen at home shops. I’m not sure of the exact number but there are generally 25000+ a year if I’m not mistaken. And from what I understand that number holds steady more or less every year. Isn’t that even more of a reason for a safer saw? If education is the answer then why are car accident #’s the same every year? Why are workplace injuries the same every year? I know that there is much education concerning both driving and workplace safety yet those numbers don’t change for the most part.
                  I can tell you exactly why there are table saw injuries every year: table saws are a dangerous tool.
                  As far as the magazine is concerned. While the there maybe hasn’t been an official position taken, Chris Schwarz flat out said in an editorial that “SawStop” legislation could possibly hurt woodworking a great deal because the cost of the saw would deter new woodworkers. Last time I checked nearly all woodworking tools were expensive. A half decent entry level cabinet saw runs near $1000.00. I’m not sure about you but I don’t shop for my tools at yard sales. And Marc Spagnuolo, a contributor, has basically accused SawStop of collusion. I respect both as woodworkers greatly and have learned much from them, and their statements may be 100 percent accurate. But when you make statements like that I would like to see some kind of facts to back it up. To say that a safer saw may ruin hobby woodworking is a pretty serious statement, I hope you would agree.
                  To that point this is why I personally am upset. I posted my opinion, others decided to comment on it, and I did my best to defend it. Other than that, thank you for your good work.

      2. Bill

        Bill L.

        “While doing electrical work I can sometimes be in dangerous situations. If somebody invented a ladder that would greatly reduce a fall off or a panelboard that would never electrocute me then sign me up, and if the state makes it mandatory even better. While that may not eliminate every danger it is just one less thing I have to worry about.”

        I disagree with your analogy. How many budding amatuer electricians are out there? Now how many budding amatuer woodworkers? Big difference there guy. This lawyer has managed to remove all competition to the point of going against the other mfgr’s in court to essentially punish them for not buying his product for a disproportunate portion of profits.

        You bet this gets EVERYONE in the industry into making him the “bad guy”. Especially the way he went about it. Defending a guy who ignored even the simplist of safety measures and hurt himself while damaging another manufacturer and their reputation. If Gass hand’t gone about it in the way he has, most woodworkers would welcome him and his product. But he’s backed the stupid to the point that he makes us all look stupid.

        If car manufacturers did this and showed the damage a group of defective Toyotas caused a few years ago with their big SNAFU, Toyota would have been put out of business VIA the CPSC by now.

        BTW I priced a replacement saw from sawstop. At $5600, its more than double what I paid for my top of the line 5HP PM-66. If Gass was really interested in safety he’d lower the cost of his saws so the average guy could afford one. How many new, or hobbyist woodworkers can even afford his lowest cost saw at over $2K?

        1. Bill Lattanzio

          I’m not sure if you read my last post, but I changed my feelings about this proposal and decided to take back most of what I said. I generally do believe that the government is over large and usually unable to determine what is best for the average American. I also truly believe that most large corporations are self serving and only looking to make a large profit at minimal expense, and that sometimes means using any method available to undermine the competition, even forcing them out of business.
          If and when this legislation passes, I know many of you will either be forced to quit woodworking because of the costs, or will quit because of your personal convictions. While I probably will continue with woodworking because I enjoy it, I have to admit I will admire the many, many that do quit the hobby, you will be sending quite a message. And I will feel sorry for those who were forced to give up woodworking, or never even take it up, because of how expensive it will become.
          I hope that any new hobbyist that can somehow afford it will be smart enough not to shove their hands or fingers into a spinning saw blade, and that the injuries will someday, somehow finally drop dramatically.
          This will be my last post regarding this subject. When you are wrong you are wrong, and I know when I’m beaten. I will take General MacArthur’s advice, even though he was much older than I am at the time, and just fade away. No hard feelings.

  8. NoelNNY

    One responder used the key word in this dilemma – workplace safety.

    The state of federal government mandating a citizen to buy a tablesaw which contains what is currently a single source safety device is as wrong as the government mandating all citizens, even the unemployed, must buy and maintain insurance.

    Yes, presently Mr Saw Stop owns the market on this particulat safety device. And it will increase the cost for even the average, weekend home owner.

    What will happen to those costs when a competitor develops and markets a similar device? All one need do is to look at the cost of iPhones and Droids, etc, all different manufacturers in the market place, which only drives up consumer costs.

    I’ve used my table saw for the past 20+ years and never was injured by it – but damned if those pesky utility knives have cut me at least 50 times during the same period.

    What does Mr Das and Mr Sawstop want to do to legislate how consummer’s use utility knives?

    Workplace legislation – fine – but stay the heck out of my workshop – it’s called private property by law.

    And what are Das’ and Mr SawStop’s intended plan should I buy their “mandatory” tool – and I elect to permanently disable it?

    Will I be spending time in Federal lock up – forced to cut lumber on the state approved one and only saw?

    Zieg Heil!! Mein Das und Sawzen Stoppen Fuhrers!

  9. Bill Lattanzio

    I think that it’s pretty disturbing that some rather influential woodworkers, including those that write for Popular Woodworking, find that this legislation is a bad thing. As someone who has worked in a production environment and also as a field electrician I have seen many, many serious injuries. Quite a few of those injuries could have been prevented had all of the safety precautions had been taken. SawStop comes along with a technology that basically will keep woodworkers and carpenters from serious, disfiguring injuries and they are called “Fear Mongerers” by many in the woodworking community. Why? Because they invented a technology that nobody else did and when they offered it to tool manufacturers they were told to take a hike? Last time I checked that is called innovation. And to be clear I don’t own any SawStop products. I know a few people that do and they can’t say enough good things about the quality of the saws.
    So now SawStop is somehow the bad guy and the state of California is first runner up because GOD FORBID they want to do as much as possible to make sure that people working on jobsites come home with all ten fingers.
    So whats the problem? Cost? Bull S***. Woodworking is expensive! Even more so if you are a hand tool woodworker. I would bet that their are very few woodworkers reading this magazine who have shops with $250.00 in tools. I am a rank amateur newbe and I have about $5000.00 invested.I once ran my finger over a jointer and they injury cost me nearly $2500.00, and that was after my health insurance footed much of the bill. That money could easily have afforded me a SawStop saw. So if you are injured once the technology pays for itself. Let’s put this in perspective, if, for example, Johnson and Johnson invented a drug that would guarantee that you will never get the flu again if you spend $2500.00 on the pill would that just be too expensive? Would the federal government mandating it be intrusion even though it will save countless millions in medical bills and lost time and possibly even saves lives? Would an advertisement for the medication showing a sick child be called fear mongering? Maybe by some, but I would be first in line to get the medication for my kid.
    I hate to say this but I lost alot of respect for some woodworkers whose writings and offerings taught me much. What a shame.

    1. MichaelSJ

      I cannot add much to what Bill has said and I am in total agreement with his position.
      No job or hobby is 100% safe and no worker or hobbyist is 100% aware of safety issues; so if a technology comes along that lessens the chance of injury AND it is not prohibitively expensive to install – why not mandate it.
      Hey, the value of you Delta Unisaw just went up significantly in value now that there will be this great rush to upgrade contractor and bench saws to something that won’t bruise your libertarian egos.
      Just remember to keep a quart jar of saline solution on ice – just in case you get to exercise your right to be whatever.

    2. gumpbelly

      Bill I worked in the ER for around 20 years, and I`ve yet to see a power tool injury that wasn`t the person using the tools fault. No guards, unsafe set ups, whatever. They all had an injury scheduled on their calendar based on their shop practices. I don`t think anyone against this legislation feels that if “YOU” want a finger nanny, then in a free market with it available “YOU” should be able to purchase that option. Where people are upset is the way Gasssss has gone about getting his product forcibly placed on ALL table saws. Safe practices with good guards have worked for a long time, and a lot of us are very comfortable working just as we have for a long time. Including capable woodworkers that write for PWW magazine. Please redirect your being disturbed to the one person who could have prevented your injury. “YOU”, and to all the other “YOU`s” out there, think safe, and be safe, but please don`t back legislation that forces those of us who already are safe into having to pay for your errors.

      1. Bill Lattanzio

        I never once said that power tool injuries were always the fault of the tool and not the user. Many times it is user error that causes the accident. That is not the point in the least. Despite what everybody in the woodworking world thinks this law is not aimed at home woodworkers, it’s aimed at jobsite and production facilities where safety is often not the primary concern. I’ve never worked in an ER but I’ve never seen any table saws or power tools in one so you can assume all you want about what happens on a jobsite. I’ve seen dozens of table saw injuries, some minor and some severe. And I’ve seen hundreds of general tool injuries. Many times it’s because guards were removed, the workers were rushing, and jobsites can be chaotic. Again, on jobsites often times things are rushed, and safety is hardly a primary concern despite what people are told. The introduction of this technology can prevent hundreds, if not thousands of injuries every year in California alone, as well as saving millions of dollars. The law has to be all encompassing, otherwise it won’t be followed.
        In the ER did you ever skip on washing because the disinfectant is expensive? Or did you ever send a patient home complaining of chest pains because he looked fine and it would take too much time to check him out? Did your supervisor ever tell you not to worry about a possibly dangerous situation? Unfortunately that type of thinking is prevalent on many jobsites and production areas.
        Popular Woodworking and from what I’m seeing quite a few of it’s subscribers, seem to be touting this as a possible disaster to the woodworking community. Talk about Fear Mongering! If that’s the case maybe I’m subscribing to the wrong magazine. Maybe the people I thought were some of the best minds in woodworking aren’t as smart as I believed. Even worse is that SawStop seems to be taking backlash for making a high quality and safe piece of equipment. Isn’t Popular Woodworking constantly lambasting tool makers like Craftsman and Stanley for making inferior tools? Why? Because they for the most part don’t advertise with them? Maybe, I don’t know. Maybe if that’s the way it is I’ll have to find a new magazine.

    3. Bill

      Careful. Look what happened to the HPV shot in Texas where it would definately save lives but the state mandated it for all teenage girls and the poo hit the fan. YOU CANNOT LEGISLATE PERSONAL SAFETY DECISIONS. Its too invasive to the average independent American.

  10. lary_s

    One more step ain’t all bad. Regulation of safety in the work place is NOT about protecting you from yourself or making your purchase for your own use more expensive – its about protecting workers from the “bosses” that are too “cheap” to provide modern adequate safety for the workers.

    Want to work in a line shaft driven 1800′s shop with unprotected belts, blades everywhere with no choice b/c that’s what the boss paid for and you need the work. Ever walk through one running – I cringed and wasn’t even operating the saws.

    A local lumber company still runs a shop with unprotected overhead radial arm saws, table saw, and other saws from before any protection was sold with them. I stopped having them cut my plywood b/c I was afraid one of them would get hurt.

    I actually don’t believe all saw manufactures should be forced to use the sawstop technology however I think it is good to put pressure on them to look more at safety.

    Ignore for a moment the finger sensing technology, why was it that it took SawStop to come up with a far better blade guard and riving knife? Any of the saw manufacturers’ “could” have done it…. but didn’t. It takes about 3 secs. to change between the two, the guard is narrow enough to be used in most situations. Do you unplug the saw every time you touch the blade? making that fine measurement? Why not have a switch right on the front that does that and only takes seconds?

    The thing that impresses me most about SawStop is that, when turned down by all the other saw companies that have been making frankly crappy safety guards etc, is the looked at the whole saw. They looked at every aspect of a very high quality saw and of all the safety components – not just their new invention.

    This is a productivity saw – designed to provide quicker changes, smooth operation, great precision and oh by the way, perhaps save you pain and suffering and much money.

    Actually, I don’t think we need the regulation. I a few years the superior product – at not that much more cost will simply be the best buy out there. My wife already thinks it is which is why I have a SawStop. Delta and General just can’t compete in terms of quality and performance.

  11. Fred West

    It boggles my mind the fact that California, through Das Williams, is again trying to legislate something without any knowledge behind it again. Looking through his biography shows nothing that would give me any hope that he knows anything about woodworking. Anyone for a Bullet Train?

    Aside from the fact that I too do not want this forced upon me, consider this. I have a Hammer slider which if used properly is far safer than the SawStop. However, if this legislation is passed, the resale value on my safer saw will plummet. This is low end, imagine owning a Martin or Altendorf and being told that they cannot be resold because they are not safe enough. That is just one unintended consequence. Of course my Delta Contractor saw would just be considered a piece of junk. Fred

    1. ewdysar

      I would think that your used equipment might actually go up in value for a few decades while the “live free or die” contingent refuses to buy the new equipment. If you are running a commercial shop and your insurance company started requiring that you upgrade your equipment, that would be a different matter, but I still think that many people would pay more than the current “pre-owned” market price for quality older equipment.

    2. MichaelSJ

      Sorry Fred, but being an ex-owner of a MiniMax slider I can tell you right now it IS NOT SAFER than a SawStop.
      I will send you a jpeg of the scar I have from resting my hand on the scoring blade and anyone is just as likely to run their hand through the saw blade as on any other saw.
      BTW, I am from California and I support this legislation and I also support the Bullet Train and I actually know what I am talking about on BOTH subjects.

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