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.
James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
- Consumer agency pushes for safety rules for table saws (usatoday.com)
- Govt looks for ways to reduce table saw injuries (seattletimes.nwsource.com)