Table Saw Safety

sawstopA recent article in USA Today reported on the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) look into table saw safety. According to the CPSC there are 10 finger amputations a day from table saw use. The head of the CPSC says she will call on the power-tool industry and safety standards group to find out why there haven’t been any actions to address the issue of injuries.

This is where I find it getting interesting. Stephen Gass, who invented technology used in SawStop® table saws that stops the blade when it contacts skin, has been pushing the CPSC to establish new rules for table saws. Mr. Gass, who is a patent lawyer, and SawStop® own several patents on the technology. The Power Tool Institute and several amateur woodworkers told the CPSC that Gass’ technology is too expensive, and the numerous SawStop® patents makes it impossible for other sawmakers to develop their own technology. Licensing of the SawStop® technology could be very lucrative for Mr. Gass’ company.

But as Mr. Gass says, what price do you put on lost fingers and hand injuries. What do you think? Leave your thoughts below.

p.s. The Power Tool Institute has a couple of resources on their website: Power tool safety videos and Safe operation of power tools (pdf) which includes many tools including wood lathes.