Appeals Court, CPSC Urge Wider Use Of SawStop Technology, Says NY Woodworking Attorney

SawStop Technology Can Save Your Fingers!

Tablesaw safety continues to make headlines and woodworkers fearing injuries should take note about the latest legal and government developments.

The question that is being asked, and I think it is a good question, is whether the government should REQUIRE tablesaw manufacturers to use safer technology when that technology is available and feasible?

Many of my friends answer “Hell no, keep guv’mint out of my business” while other friends answer “Hell yes, this is the perfect role of government to enforce safety standards to protect people”.

I have to confess that I am in the “Hell Yes” camp because unfortunately tablesaw manufacturers have historically demonstrated that they will NOT voluntarily adopt the safest technology.  Because of that, and because I see first-hand the devastating effects of bad injuries, I tend to support anything that results in fewer innocent people getting hurt.

That’s why I support past safety regulations that have resulted in much greater public safety.  Things like seatbelts and airbags in cars have resulted in fewer deaths and less catastrophic injuries.  Years ago, seatbelts were non-existent, then a rare exception.  But it wasn’t until seatbelts were REQUIRED that we widespread adoption of this safety device. No one today would argue that requiring seatbelts was a bad thing.

And that’s why I am in favor of the government requiring all saw manufacturers to adopt SawStop (or something equivalent) safety technology.

In a perfect world, these tablesaw manufacturers would build safer saws because they can and because they truly care about the safety of their customers.  However, we don’t live in a perfect world and corporate design decisions often come down to profits and the least expensive way to build a product.  Unfortunately, touting your saw as the safer saw isn’t nearly as touting your saw as being cheaper than your competition’s product.

Normally, one place where manufacturers end up paying for their decision to build an unsafe product is in the courtroom.  In the courtroom, a manufacturer who builds an unsafe product when there are safer, feasible alternatives, can be required to pay substantial verdicts.

Historically, tablesaw manufacturers have avoided liability because they have all built their saws in essentially the same way and have then banded together in the courtroom to say the way they build their saws is to the “industry standard”.  They essentially claim that this industry standard is “the best we can do because everyone in the industry does it that way”.  They then claim other designs are not feasible, or not practical, or more expensive…..

For years, the conspiracy of the table-saw manufacturers was successful in avoid liability but recently the tide turned in a very important table-saw case.

A federal appeals court in Massachusetts has upheld $1.5 million in damages to an insurance company so it could recover expenses from Ryobi’s parent company in the case of Carlos Osorio, a flooring installer who suffered a hand injury in 2005 while using a Ryobi table saw, according to Fine Woodworking magazine.

Dr. Stephen Gass, the inventor of SawStop, testified on Osorio’s behalf in the lawsuit against Ryobi, saying none of the major table saw manufacturers, including Ryobi, had adopted his safety technology. With SawStop, the blade instantly senses when it comes in contact with skin and the blade snaps out of sight before any serious damage can be done to a person’s body.

Osorio’s table saw did not have the SawStop technology and the district court, citing safety concerns, ruled in his favor based on Gass’s testimony.

The federal appeals court’s October ruling supporting the district court can be found here.

An interview with Stephen Gass, the inventor of SawStop, is here.

Also in October, the Consumer Product Safety Commission voted unanimously to propose new table saw safety standards. Read a news story about that decision here. And the actual CPSC decision is here.

I recently wrote about my experience in buying a SawStop table saw. Yes, they are more expensive, but itsn’t the safety of the woodworkers in your family worth it?

SawStop works. As I said in my last post, I encourage all of my woodworking friends in Elmira, Corning and the Twin Tiers to check out the latest in safety technology.

Please, be safe out there.  Always put safety first, even if it costs you more than you wanted to spend.

Thanks for reading.

Thanks, Jim

_________________________________

James B. Reed

NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer

Ziff Law Firm, LLP

Mailto: [email protected]

Office: (607)733-8866

Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)

Web: www.zifflaw.com

Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and

NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

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With Rise In Accidents, NY Woodworking Lawyer Urges Table Saw Safety

Woodwworkers should look into investing in a table saw from SawStop.

As an avid woodworker (my wife says too avid!) and injury lawyer who has seen way too many people hurt in way too many ways, I am always concerned about woodworking safety.

I have an uncle who is a constant reminder of what can easily happen when working in the workshop. My uncle is a good, safe, competent woodworker who is missing a good portion of a finger because of a woodworking accident that happened literally in the blink of an eye. He wasn’t doing anything unsafe and was doing what he had done hundreds of times before, but nonetheless he lost a big chunk of a finger.

In my quest for greater safety, I recently purchased a new table saw featuring a finger-saving technology called SawStop.  Essentially, this is a saw that has an incredible technology built into it that causes the whirring saw blade to be stopped in milliseconds if there is any contact between the blade and skin.

Sure, the SawStop saw costs a little bit more than other comparable table saws, but when you consider the pain, disability and whopping medical bills that result from a table saw accident, that small additional expense is chump change.

I bought my SawStop from Brian Kita of Hermance Machine Co. in Williamsport, PA. Brian was awesome to deal with and he had this to say about the SawStop saw:

We handle a lot of manufacturer’s products here, and I have to tell you, this is the only product line we carry that makes such a difference in our customers’ lives. They sell through recessions and they sell when schools have no budget money. People have come to us straight from the emergency room with bloody bandages covering what’s left of their fingers to write me a check for a SawStop. I’ve taken calls from pros angry that they need a cartridge that seemingly blew for no reason, only to have them call back and excitedly tell me that as they wrote out the purchase order, they found a small smear of blood from where they contacted the blade but never even felt it. Yeah, SawStop has something unique, and they could probably charge a whole lot more for it, but I’m grateful that they don’t.

Having now assembled my SawStop saw, I am pleased to report that not only does it feature incredible safety technology, it is also, by far, the most precision-machined, well-engineered piece of power woodworking equipment I have ever owned.

My point of this post isn’t intended to serve as an advertisement for SawStop — it is intended to reach out to my woodworking friends to encourage them to very carefully consider ALL aspects of safety, which would include consideration of the latest, greatest safety technology.

The alternative — doing nothing, using an old, unsafe table saw — is not wise. According to an October story by The Associated Press, the U.S. government says about 10 people EACH DAY lose a finger or get their hand mangled by unsafe table saws! That is remarkable!

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has started looking for ways to reduce injuries. The agency estimated there were more than 67,000 blade-contact medical injuries in 2007 and 2008, costing more than $2 billion.

Table saw makers say those numbers don’t reflect the new products like SafeSaw. So we’ll keep track of this story and watch for newer figures from the government!

In the meantime, be safe out there!

Thanks for reading.

Thanks, Jim

_________________________________

James B. Reed

NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer

Ziff Law Firm, LLP

Mailto: [email protected]

Office: (607)733-8866

Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)

Web: www.zifflaw.com

Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and

NYBikeAccidentBlog.com