Submit Your Comment on Proposed Table Saw Rule

The US Consumer Products Safety Commission is considering new safety regulations for table saws, based on a petition asking for a requirement that table saws should be equipped with a device to reduce or prevent injuries if the operator  makes hand contact with the blade. The commission can write a performance standard for new saws, require manufacturers to adopt a voluntary standard, or require labeling about the dangers of using a table saw. Part of the process is for the commission to request comments from the public on the proposed rule. The document regarding this is available online from the federal register. The public comment period for this proposed rule expires on December 12, 2011, and we encourage all of our readers to submit a comment directly to the CPSC. Instructions for submitting comments by mail are within the document, or comments may be submitted online at regulations.gov.

We have written extensively on this blog about the issue, and the outcome of this rule-making process will have a profound effect on all woodworkers. We hope you will take the time to examine both sides of this issue, consider the scope and costs of the problem versus the consequences of proposed solutions, and participate in the comment process.

The Power Tool Institute has posted their position online at www.powertoolinstitute.info

The founder of SawStop has posted this response online at woodshopnews.com

Popular Woodworking Magazine has free articles available online about safe use of the table saw.

–Robert W. Lang

71 thoughts on “Submit Your Comment on Proposed Table Saw Rule

  1. Pkorman1

    I applaud the technology and application of Saw Stop and if it were available at the time I bought my cabinet saw many years ago I would be hard pressed to justify purchasing anything else. My problem with mandating this technology on all table saws is that it awards a monopoly to the designer who appears to have heavily patented it. I do not believe the government has the right to mandate a safety product or technology without a fair competition playing field for all manufacturers. Right now, we as consumers, have the choice of competing saws. I think it is fair to both the saw manufacturers and to Saw Stop. Saw Stop and their technology are protected by patent and are allowed to profit from it. If we as consumers wish to pay the differential in price between their saw and a comparable non flesh sensing technology saw (which seems to be more like $1000 rather than the much touted $100), so be it. Mandating a proprietary safety device seems like it should be illegal. This is a knee jerk reaction of the government. It allowed the saw manufacturers the freedom to be lax in the quest for safer saws for many years. Neither mandating Saw Stop technology nor the debacle of past “regulation” serve the public well. It does however serve the inventor of Saw Stop well. If we allow the free market to proceed without government interference, we the people will drive the market. There will be competition and economics will encourage R&D and decide the fair market price for safety technology

  2. KenBry

    At what point are people held accountable for their own stupidity or lack of safety? When does this type of legislation stop? Are we going to have safety stickers on the outside of our cars warning pedestrians that crossing in front of cars can injure or kill them? Do all my shop tools now need to have a safety device that stops them in case I stupidly place my hand into the cutting path? What about hand tools? I know more people hurt from Chisels than any saw.
    While it’s wonderful that a safety device is available for table saws, it’s also one of those that I believe isn’t needed. If a person thinks they need this safety device then they are doing things on their saw that aren’t particularly safe or they are scared of the equipment. I am intelligent, I am self-taught and I know danger when I see it. I respect that danger and act accordingly. If a person wants an extreme safety item then they can pay for it as an option.
    We can’t save everyone from being stupid, and I am tired of being forced to pay for the safety devices to protect the idiots from themselves.

    1. jroth33139

      The problem is that you (and me) are paying for their injuries already — in the form of higher insurance costs, costs associated with people being off their job, and higher costs of the machinery because of products liability insurance that the manufacturers have to have. Those who are injured don’t absorb those costs themselves — they pass their costs onto society.

      According to the CPSC study of injuries due to consumer use of table saws, about 38,000 people per year are injured severely enough to require medical treatment. 10% of those injuries are amputations. That’s 3,800 amputations per year within our community.

      read the study here: http://www.cpsc.gov/library/foia/foia11/os/statsaws.pdf

      I am not so sure that every one of those people are “idiots” or were “being stupid.” Accidents can happen, even to careful people.

    2. lou@loucoopey.com

      Who says all saws would have Saw Stop technology. A manufacturer could choose to develop their own, perhaps better solutions. I’ll bet their R&D guys are hard at it as we speak because, government or no government, the writing is on the wall. Unless they do something quickly, they are going the way of the buggy whip and they know it. In the meantime,I would predict that there are a few manufacturers who will soon be offering their own brand “equiped with the latest Saw Stop safety features”.

  3. Steve-o

    Seems as though we’re as divided as any political discussion. Rights versus imperial rule is not the issue here.
    If Delta had developed the technology we wouldn’t be talking about it at all. The model would be either discontinued already or would have been licensed to other manufacturing firms. Delta would not be pursuing mandates on the market (customers).
    Just like driving, the operator is responsible for the machine under his control… while on automobiles … those safety devices are present to protect the driver and passengers from someone operating a vehicle (machine) irresponsibly whether the irresponsible party is in your vehicle or another. That is how or why those safety requirements can be legally required.
    Personally I’ll never own a Saw Stop brand anything simply because of the tactics used to push the product. Criticizing manufacturers as greedy is as absurd as declaring table saws drive up the cost of insurance or healthcare. Delta manufacturers their Unisaw domestically. There just isn’t the margin to be greedy.
    Let us look further into the matter. Any mandates would not hold limits at a single tool. The only people I know who have lost digits or an entire arm did so while using other tools; circular saw, radial arm saw, compound mitre saw. Wouldn’t routers and band saws also require such safety devices be installed?
    When the Saw Stop was introduced it was of interest to me but not now. They burned it with me as being greedy, self righteousand pushy.
    Hopefully I’ll continue to be safe and/or lucky.

  4. see wood 2020

    Why does my government (by the people) have to regulate everything under the sun. Put it up for vote and lets see what the results are. Stupidity at its best! One step worst than the idiot who started all this. Guess I can’t really call him an idiot – after all he’s a millionaire and I’m not. Almost all new new table saws coming out have riving knives and that should eliminate 90% of wacked off fingers. Just use our guards and we will be much safer.

  5. rscottsmithesq

    I bought my first tablesaw a few years ago. I wanted a Sawstop. My wife said: Lawyers don’t need fingers to practice. But then, she will only let me order my heart medication one month at a time because I might die and leave a lot of expensive medication unused.

    Seriously, having seen the result of a good friend (an experienced woodworker) putting his fingers through a tablesaw last month, I can only applaud requring an effective safety feature. That the first one to come up with the only viable safety feature happens to be the only one to patent a viable safety feature, begs the question. The industry has ignored the need for building a better mouse trap. And this is from a lawyer who defends manufacturers in products liability litigation. I applaud Sawstop and it’s founder.

  6. andrewscrolledcrafts

    I think this is something that should be left up to each person. As long as each person is well educated on how a machine works and what safety measures should be taken; that should surfice. Sure there will be accidents; but what about other tools that could cause injury? What about the bandsaw or the scrollsaw or even the drill press? All these machines if not used properly could inflict injury and lots of pain. I bet more people injure themselves with a hammer than a tablesaw; true a hammer injury could be minor as compared to a tablesaw injury, but this proves that accidents will always happen. Personally I would not trust a saftey device that could fail like anyother one. Machines used in schools and large factories, sure put all the safety devices on as they wish, but leave the small business owner and the garage craftsman alone.

  7. lou@loucoopey.com

    I used an old Craftsman 12″ contractor saw without any safety features for 31 years. I hated every minute of those 31 years. Thankfully, I was never seriously injured by the saw but I was extremely careful every time I turned it on. Now that I have a new Saw Stop I am much less stressed. It’s actually a pleasure to use the saw. When I was shopping the Saw Stop, the new Delta came out. I was really tempted by the Delta which seemed to be a more substantial, better built saw, but in the end, I went with the Saw Stop. The main reason I did so was for my grandchildren who are too young to work in my shop but might some day do so. I could never forgive myself if they were injured by a situation I could have prevented.

    As to those who resent “government interference” in their lives, lighten up. There will always be plenty of old used saws around for you to risk your fingers on as more and more people trade them in to purchase safer alternatives. There will be so many of them available, so cheap, that if you have the room in your shop, you can have one for ripping, one for plywood, one for melamine and several more with various dado blade set-ups! If you don’t believe me, I have quite a few film cameras, a Beta Max VCR, a dial telephone, a Blockbuster membership, and an AB Dick 360 printing press that I will sell you for as much as I paid when I bought them.

  8. options

    Lets go forward please. At one time cars did not have electric starters. You could get hit be a flying crank handle or killed.

    Once this rule goes in, prices will come down a LOT.

    No one pays more for a car starter today.

  9. I. Wheeler

    I’ve been using table saws of all types from benchtop up to very large industrial grade sliding table designs for close to 40 years. I’ve taught woodworking shop classes at college and professional levels and have worked in small shops and large industrial settings. I currently own a Jet 12″ 5 HP 3-phase saw and have used it for several years. I’ve never been cut on a table saw (although a vicious jointer once reduced the nails on two fingers). I agree with the writer who said that guards obscure the blade so I don’t use them either. I usually either set up a jig of some kind or use another machine or set up if I fear it won’t be safe on a table saw.
    Over the years I have personally witnessed the results of several table saw accidents. In most cases, I would not describe the injured person as “dumb”…more often, someone who became momentarily distracted for some reason.
    I think that if the technology exists to provide safer finger-saving saws and we do not set this as our standard
    then we expose ourselves to needless risks. The issue of expense is a real one, too. I’d hope that some hungry manufacturer would come up with an after-market blade-braking kit which is not based on current Saw-Stop patents.

  10. ejlatstl

    I support the new safty regulations.

    And, I am in full agreement with those that argue that safety training on the table saw must come first.

    My ultimate arguement is that I want a blade stopping device on my table saw and if they are required, I see two positives. First, there is the strong potential for the price per unit to drop… and the cost to me will drop. (Remember, I already said I want one.) And second, a little healthy compitition should improve these devices over the years so that the current drawbacks are eliminated.

    And I must respectfully disagree with those who might suggest that the ‘idiot’ pushing the wood causes TS accedents. Fatigue and a momentary loss of concentration are not limited to only the untrained and inexperienced… you know, the ‘idiots’.

    Work safely out there!

  11. WoodButcher42

    Table saws have been around for more than 100 years,and in that time millions of people have used them without injury.
    The present situation was caused by a careless worker making a cut on an unstable portable saw with the guard removed.
    Notice to the Feds. YOU CANT REGULATE STUPIDITY.

    To Quote Douglas Adams.
    “A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.”

  12. smorreltork

    The federal government has no business in my business. I can understand the need for safety devises but, to mandate a certain type,there goes the price of a decent tablesaw. There will always be the potential for accidents. You can put saw stops on and someone will cut themself changing a blade. What’s next? Rubber blades?
    I think that if you give some people the false sense of safety there is a bigger potential for accidents.
    I wholeheartedly vote no to any more government regulations!

  13. jwm

    I favor seatbelts, air bags, FAA Airwothiness Directives, Vehicle Safety Inspections, Consumer Product Safety Commisions, and other common sense governmental efforts to create safe environments … including mandating flesh detecting/saw stopping components on table saws.

    The sin here is that manufacturers did not do more on their own to adopt a technology that is an obviously successful safety enhancement.

    Now that it exists, I am not interested in saws that do not have this feature.

    In the workplace, if the government does not mandate it … insurance companys will … they don’t care about your fingers; they only care about their money.

    jwm

  14. ggonos

    I have been using a table saw for about 30 years, this includes cabinet and contractor types.

    What I see here is another ‘forced’ government mandate!

    It is clear to me from my past experience that adding more ‘safety’ equipment to saws, or anything, will not prevent anyone from getting cut, maimed or killed. The prime function that will do this is training by a skilled or certified trainer.

    Adding more gadgets to prevent anything from happening does not work. What works is training. Dummies get hurt, trained people don’t!

  15. dwchat

    I am in favor of a saftey device which stops instantly any lawyer from suing when he/she thinks he can make a buck off of someone for any mistake anyone makes. Frivolous lawsuits raise the cost of doing business for everyone.
    Shouldn’t every device with a rotating tool capable of contacting the operator be made to stop.Do we stop with saws or continue to mixers, drills, fans, blenders, routers, sanders, grinders, etc. Should rotating tools be the only ones? What about reciprocating tools like sawzalls, jigsaws, sewing machines, steam engines. My point is use your head and think a bit before operating machinery. We already have operating manuals with 3-4 pages of warnings before you get to the the tool. At some point we have to concede that there is nothing more we can do to stop people from hurting themselves accidentally.
    I vote NO for the sawstop mandate.

  16. poppajim

    I guess I’m just old school but I have always had a deep respect for sharp objects turning at incredible speeds. I operate an old (I guess you would call antique) Sears table saw with no guards of any kind. Although I would require those on a new saw that I purchase, the fact that they aren’t on the saw I use makes me respectful of the danger and I never get my hands close to the blade. You can’t legislate away responsibility. Know that it is an inherently dangerous tool and respect it.

  17. woodplane

    I am concerned that the focus on a technology which quickly detects and stops the spinning blade will defocus woodworkers on critical safety methods and habits.

    Proper blade alignment, sharpness, speed, material inspection, appropriate blade for the material, eye protection, stance and balance, clear work area, visibility, are but a few of many basic skills and habits which avoid accidents.

    I do support active devices like the saw stop but fear the cost will make saws unaffordable. An additional complication I haven’t seen enough discussion on is the maintenance and reliability of the Saw Stop technology.

    We should use experiences from early air bag and anti lock brakes as guidance to difficulties and cost prohibitiveness during early deployments. Let’s be careful not to jump on an unknown and time tested technology too early.

  18. capnjohn

    I am one of the stupid ones who operate the table saw without a guard on my Delta Unisaw. I need to see where the blade is going to cut, and I can’t do that with a guard. In may case, a one-man shop, I would appreciate the saw-stop. Now having said that, the cost is prohibitive. Once the patent expires and every company makes a saw-stop, I might purchase one.
    Now to the issue of government intervention. We the People are the government. We created it to take care of issues that face out society on a daily basis. Worker safety is one such issue, right up there with safe food, safe airplanes and safe working conditions. I understand that Libertarians want to make decisions for themselves, but not everyone is smart enough to make that decision and when they are injured it affects the rest of us through higher medical costs across the board, lost productivity, and in the case of the worker-possible lost appendages, wages and the like. He (she) hurt their family and society through carelessness.
    It is NOT cool to walk around with missing fingers.

    1. fuzznarf

      Your logic is flawed. If we the people are the ones who create the laws, but we the people are too stupid to know what is good or bad for us, then we the people are incapable of choosing the leaders, thus incapable of choosing what the appropriate laws are for us.

      The inherent foundation of being a libertarian is that people should have FREEDOM so long as it does not harm others. If I choose to use a saw without flesh-detecting technology, I should have the freedom to do so. If I choose to have an employee use one, that is a different matter of workplace safety and finding an insurance company to let you do so. Stop telling people what is good for them. Should we also mandate flesh-detecting technology for bandsaws, planers, jointers, drum sanders, shapers, routers, etc? where do you draw the line on the slippery slope? if you say just x,y, and z tools, why the arbitrary determination. If one requires it all should, otherwise none should.

      It is people who use ‘safety’ as a tool to push their agenda on others ‘for their own good’ This is an elitist attitude saying you are smarter than them, and know better than them for their own person. Why no mandate laws prohibiting the drinking of Clorox, after all that is bad for you. Based on this logic we need to legislate the stupidity out of people. Or mandate that everyone brushes their teeth twice a day.. after all research shows people with poor dental hygene have higher rates of heart attacks. Make a law!! because that always works… NOT.

      Let people choose for themselves. Once mandated, stupid people will just find ways to circumvent the technology because they wont want to pay $100 for a new brake. There will always be accidents and stupid people. Laws will not stop this. Stop thinking you know what is good for someone else and trying to wield power over them. Drugs are illegal, yet there are still millions of people who use them every day. This whole notion that passing a law fixes a problem is bogus. Grow up people.

  19. kirchop

    Table saws are NOT dangerous! It’s the idiot pushing the wood that makes them dangerous. If you don’t know how to use one, get lessons or stick to a hand saw. Read and understand all the instructions that come with any power tool. As Norm would say. Would you try to steal an airplane if you didn’t know how to fly?

COMMENT