It has been reported that table saws, band saws, radial arm saws and miter saws are responsible for thousands of injuries each year to their users. Table saws alone account for approximately 40,000 injuries per year. According to the National Consumer League, table saws cause more than ten amputations every day. Table saw injuries cost more than $2 billion a year in medical costs to victims. Given the costs of treatment and the pain/suffering inflicted on the victims and their families, any and all safety improvements that can reduce or eliminate these injuries should be implemented.
Table saws are sold with removable guards. While these guards can be effective in preventing some injuries, the guards do not prevent all injury events. A Consumer Product Safety Commission report found that as many as a third of all table saw injuries happen with the guard in place. Many times, the guards are removed for operational convenience. Other times, the guards are removed to make certain cuts but are not re-installed afterwards. Either way, table saw manufacturers know that their guards are removed regularly.
Most would be surprised to know that technology which can prevent all amputations and injuries, whether the guard is in place or not, has been available to table saw manufacturers since November of 2000. SawStop technology will stop a table saw blade within milliseconds of contacting human skin. This technology is effective and to date there has not been a single documented injury with this technology in place. Unfortunately, table saw manufacturers have resisted this amazing technology, arguing costs.
Table saw manufacturers’ reluctance to adopt this technology belies common sense and good business practices. Studies have estimated that table saws equipped with this new technology cost approximately $100 more than the same saw without the technology. We believe that an increased cost of $100 is acceptable, especially when one considers the elimination of deaths and amputations, savings in medical treatment, the elimination of the pain, emotional trauma and permanent disfigurement associated with these injuries.
Kendall Dunson, a lawyer in our firm, recently filed a case against a major table saw manufacturer. In that case, our client sustained a serious hand injury on a table saw. SawStop technology would have prevented his injury. On October 5, 2011, the CPSC voted 5-0 to consider a national table saw safety standard. The industry has and will frustrate this process of adopting a national saw safety standard. If a national saw safety standard is ever implemented, the industry will spend millions making it as weak as possible. In the meantime, thousands will continue to be unnecessarily maimed.
Hopefully, brave consumers like our client will continue to come forward and push the industry through litigation to do the right thing and implement proven technology that will prevent thousands of unnecessary injuries and the associated costs. We will update you on the progress of this case. If you need additional information on this subject, contact Kendall Dunson at 800-898-2034 or by email at Kendall.Dunson@beasleyallen.com.
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