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The Consumer Products Safety Commission will meet on October 5, 2011 to decide whether or not to continue with an “Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” to address table saw blade contact injuries. If the commission decides to proceed, the next step will be to accept comments from the public on this issue. Comments will be accepted online or by mail. As soon as a decision is made, we’ll post the mail address, and a link to the website for comments. E-mail comments will not be accepted.

An in-depth draft report on the issue is available from CPSC at this link.

A brief report is also available from CPSC at this link.

The commission is considering a performance standard that would require the adoption of “flesh detecting technology” in new table saws. This doesn’t have an effect on saws used in the workplace; another government agency, OHSA has jurisdiction there. The commission considers that the frequency and cost of table saw injuries to consumers is large enough to mandate government action.

This has been a complex and volatile issue, as the adoption of a performance standard is tangled with patent and other legal issues. CPSC is prevented from adopting a rule that would give a business advantage to one company, yet it remains to be seen how that can be accomplished given the number of patents held by the company that petitioned CPSC for this rule. We could see lengthy legal battles and serious changes in the types and cost of saws that are available.

The full document is well worth reading, no matter what side of this issue you are on, and as always, you comments are welcome here.

–Robert W. Lang

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Showing 10 comments
  • hfbowern

    Guess they will have to invent a dumby button for those guys that don’t like safety, but insist they should be paid an large sum of money for doing things IDIOTS would do.

  • paulkray

    This was going to be good and intelligent but I am just gettting pissed about the whole matter. If I cut my fingers off. It was probably my fault. Good thing I just invested in a few more hand saws.

  • Jon

    this will cause the price of old table saws (without the saw-stop technology, aka crony capitalism) to “necessarily skyrocket”.

    I bought a new general 350 cabinet saw in 1991 for about $1000, a lot of money. If I were just starting today in woodworking as a hobby, I could not afford a new cabinet saw. Forcing the manufacturs to add this equipment will only force the price up more, and fewer saws will be sold, and maybe even imported.

    all this for a nation of increasing illiteracy (can’t read the instructions of placards). LCD

  • david7134

    Table saw safety is important. I would consider the new saws only if the government stays out. But I feel the the saw safe people are trying to push through something with the help of the government and this is wrong, except with this administration.

    This is not an area for the government. If they really wanted to do something to improve safety, then eliminate product law suits so the manufactures would not feel reluctant to make improvements. As it is, if they institute a safety measure, then the lawyers will descend on them and penalize them for saying their product was not already the best on the market.

    Get the government out of our lives.

  • AL

    Robert, thanks for keeping us up todate on this issue. Personally fail to see the need for the gov’t to mandate anything regarding this issue. If I want a TS with flesh detection they are available for me to buy. And if I wish to buy a TS without flesh detection, I believe I should have the right to do this also.


  • GunnyGene

    I’ll also be commenting. My own opinion is that the majority of injuries result from the user not taking proper care relative to technique, etc. The various built in safety devices, imho, tend to make the user too reliant on the machine to protect them from themsleves and leads to carelessness and overconfidence. That said there is room for improvement in both the design and quality of ts’s – a cheap consumer saw is far more likely to bite you than a good quality saw. Also important is setup of the saw, correct blade, fence alignment and so on. All stuff that should be adhered to, but often isn’t by the occasional weekend warrior. I hope that the CPSC uses some commonsense with this.

  • Steve_OH

    RWL: “The commission is considering a performance standard that would require the adoption of ‘flesh detecting technology’ in new table saws.”

    That’s not true at all. The stated goal of the performance standard is to “reduce or prevent table saw blade contact injuries.” Flesh-sensing technology is one existing method of achieving that goal, but there is nothing to prevent a vendor from coming up with a scheme that has similar performance but doesn’t involve any kind of flesh sensing.


  • bob_easton

    THANKS Robert for the links and updates.

    I’ll be among many planning to take advantage of the public comment period, sending a small piece of my mind to the CPSC. Will be watching for the link about how to comment.

    (FWIW, page 2 of the existing document has instructions for commenting. However, it is still a draft document.)

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