The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is currently considering requiring “active injury mitigation” (AIM) technology on all table saws that, writes the Power Tool Institute (PTI) in a press release, would more than double the costs of these products. PTI is concerned that the price increase would make a table saw out of reach for many consumers, and contribute to job losses if makers are as a result able to sell fewer table saws, and is working to block the legislation.
You can read the PTI commentary on its website, and send a comment to the CPSC through the Institute’s website. (The deadline for public comment is July 26, 2017.)
The CPSC is concerned with protecting users from an estimated annual 33,400 table saw injuries (those numbers are from emergency-room treated injuries in 2015, as stated in the CPSC proposal summary: “Safety Standard Addressing Blade-contact Injuries on Table Saws.” Of those 33,400 injuries, CPSC staff estimates that 92 percent are from contact with the blade.
“The proposed rule would establish a performance standard that requires table saws, when powered on, to limit the depth of cut to 3.5 millimeters when a test probe, acting as surrogate for a human body/finger, contacts the spinning blade at a radial approach rate of 1 meter per second (m/s).”
You can read the proposal in its entirety and submit comments directly to CPSC by clicking on the link, or submit comments by post to:
Office of the Secretary
Consumer Product Safety Commission
4330 East West Highway
Bethesda, MD 20814
Written correspondence must include the Docket No. CPSC-2011-0074
Again, the deadline for public comments is July 26, 2017.
Voluntary safety standards – riving knives and modular blade gaurds – were adopted for all new table saws in January 2014 and January 2010, respectively, but became widely adopted on all new models by 2008.
Note that only two manufacturers, SawStop and Bosch, offer AIM on saws – that is, technology that detects flesh then stops or retracts the blade. But in 2015, SawStop filed a patent infringement case against Bosch and currently, there is an injunction limiting import to the U.S. of the German company’s AIM-equipped saws. Bosch has filed an appeal, but a final determination has not yet been made. So in essence, at the moment, if the rule is adopted the technology employed will be that protected by SawStop’s patent. (SawStop was recently acquired by TTS Tooltechnic Systems, the parent company of Festool.)
I can see pros and cons to this proposed rule – and I’m a living example of the dilemma. I have an older-model Delta Unisaw – no AIM technology. I am hyper-aware every time I use it that I’m putting my fingers at risk and consequently, I’m extremely careful. But the price was right.
I can’t afford a SawStop right now. But when I can, I will replace the Unisaw with a 1.75 hp SawStop “Professional Cabinet Saw.” So it’s my vintage cabinet saw or nothing. Without it, I’d be doing all my ripping and crosscutting with a track saw or by hand – doable, but not ideal, especially when rehabbing a house.
So I necessarily fall into the camp of assuming personal responsibility. Would I like to work more safely with the added protection of AIM? Sure. I’d also like to drive a Volvo. But right now, neither are an option.