Table Saw Verdict Upheld, CPSC Commisioner’s Statement

Two items are in the news today in the ongoing story about table saw injuries. In Boston yesterday, the US Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling in the case of Carlos Osorio vs. One World Technologies, awarding Osorio $1.5 million for a job site injury. You can read the entire court decision here.

In Washington, D.C., Robert Adler, a member of the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a statement about the vote to give advanced notice of a proposed rule regarding table saw injuries. In the statement, Adler mentions being impressed with the SawStop, and concerned about the number and severity of injuries to users of table saws, especially those older than 65. He also gives an indication of where the commission may be heading:

“Although I find myself extremely impressed by the SawStop technology, I am not in favor of writing a standard that would result in mandating a patented technology if such a result is avoidable.”

That “if” is underlined in the commissioner’s statement, and it’s a mighty big “if”. The commission can only write rules that define performance standards, they can not mandate any particular technology. Which raises the question of how manufacturers can meet a standard, if the technology to implement that standard is protected by a number of patents.  If we see a new rule from CPSC, will we see safer saws, or years of lawsuits over patents? How expensive will table saws become, and will we see the least expensive saws on the market disappear?

The process of formulating a new rule by CPSC calls for public comments, and if you’re reading this blog you’re the type of person who will be most affected by this. You also have experience that will be beneficial to the commission, to help them make a reasonable and responsible decision. When the public comment period opens, we will post the link here on this blog. In the meantime, your comments are welcome below.

Click Here to download a PDF of the Statement from CPSC commissioner Robert Adler

Click Here to download a PDF of the US District Court decision on the appeal to the Osorio case.

–Robert W. Lang

8 thoughts on “Table Saw Verdict Upheld, CPSC Commisioner’s Statement

  1. lhocking

    It is hard to understand how the court could suppose that adding one more safety device to a saw would have helped this guy when he had removed all the safety equipment from the saw he was using. The only way to render this guy safe with a table saw would be to remove the power cord.
    The industry group would be better served if they produced a extensive video on table saw safety and made it widely available on the net and included with every new saw sold. I am glad to see the new riveting knife requirement but I am not ready to burn $150 (saw blade and brake device) by attempting to saw a piece of wood that was “too wet”.

  2. cstandley

    Robert,

    There is one aspect that I haven’t seen mentioned. As a 7 year old, I reached onto the tablesaw while my father was working to get a block and cut my middle finger on the end. It is a mangled scar and nerves bother me to this day. (Don’t malign my father; I was quicker than a hummingbird). When the SawStop came out, it didn’t take much thinking for me to buy one. Although not common, children are also at risk.

    Politically, let’s let the SawStop inventor have his money and with that energy, go after Bank of America or Wells Fargo, or the mortgage industry.

    cstandley

  3. rbsrig

    It’s just one more instance of the Government thinking that it can legislate against stupidity. Blade guards are sold with every table saw. I wonder how many of us actually use them. More than 80% of the shops I visit don’t use them. The riving knife was a good idea because in most instances it replaced a rather difficult to mount and remove (and often ineffective) splitter.
    The Saw Stop has a switch to shut down the protection mechanism when cutting conductive material or relatively “wet” wood. After destroying a couple of expensive blades and brake systems, how many owners would switch the system off?
    Woodworking with machines is inherently dangerous. SawStop has done a good job of marketing to amateurs and OSHA controlled shops. IF they really cared about public safety, they would license their patent to other manufacturers for $10 per saw!

  4. bluejazz

    Not to worry. As soon as this regulation is passed, (and it will pass in some form) the government will set up a new law enforcement operation.

    They will buy saws newly placed on the black market in a table saw walking sting. They will then re-sell them to criminals (that would be you and me). Then they will walk away and fail to follow up on what happened to the illicit table saws.

    Next someone will be injured by one of these unsafe saws. No one in government will claim any knowledge of any of this. No one will be prosecuted. Oh sure a few careers will be destroyed in the cover-up. But during the sting, these illegitimate table saws will surely still be readily available.

    1. Publius Secundus

      Surely this isn’t like the Justice Department pushing assault rifles over the Mexican border. If table saws are made criminal, only criminals will have table saws.

  5. GunnyGene

    Does the CPSC have authority to require user training and/or licensing to purchase or use a table saw? If they do, I could envision something along those lines coming from this.

      1. GunnyGene

        Thanks Bob, I missed that post. But it doesn’t answer my question about CPSC authority. I’m not advocating for a “drivers license” type thing, but as we all know guys rarely read the first few pages of the user manuals. Perhaps the manufacturers could voluntarily include a CD with each purchase demonstrating proper use and procedures for a variety of cuts. Seems like if it’s on TV (or your PC ) we’re more likely to pay attention.

COMMENT