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CPSC Now Ready to Talk About Tougher Safety Regulations for Table Saws

Nearly a decade after finding out that table saws can cause serious injuries to users, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is now ready to talk about creating tougher safety standards for these products. The delay comes after years of bureaucratic hurdles, extensive study into the matter, and other regulatory work.
Table saws cause about 10 finger amputations a year. Fractures are also a common table saw-related injury, with laceration injuries the most common. Also, per a recent CPSC study, in 2007 and 2008 about 66,900 people were treated at an emergency room for table saw blade contact injuries. If you or someone you love suffered an injury from using a table saw you may be able to file a products liability complaint against the manufacturer. Hundreds of table saw lawsuits have already been filed by injury victims and their families.
Last year, a jury awarded a $1.5 million Massachusetts appliance defect verdict to Carlos Osorio, who injured his fingers while using a table saw when laying hardwood floors. One World Technologies Inc. was found guilty of breach of warranty of merchantability and negligence. Because the table saw accident severed two of his tendons, Osorio’s hand is now stuck in one fixed position. The plaintiff’s table saw attorneys had argued that if SawStop, (a blade outfitted with technology that stops when it sense a body part) had been implemented with this particular product, then Osorio’s hand would have been saved.
Stephen Gass, is the inventor of SawStop. Although he was the one who convinced the CPSC to accept his petition for rulemaking in 2002 when President Bush was president, since the Commission didn’t draft the rule then, a new vote will have to be made now. The CPSC will also have to be careful to consider whether regulation it comes up with will limit market place competition in favor of Gass’s “flesh-sensing” technology. Next month, the federal agency will vote on whether to initiate first steps toward mandatory regulation.
Meantime, the Power Tool Institute, which represents table saw manufacturers, says that the saws’ blade guards have since been improved so that they protect against injuries. It also says that this year, no new table saw lawsuits have so far been filed.
More Table Saw Injury/Accident Facts from the CPSC’s 2009 study:
• 95.7% of injuries were sustained by table saw operators.
• 88% of injuries involved contact with the saw blade.
• Fixed cabinet saws, semiportable contractor saws, and portable bench saws have all been known to cause injuries.
• In 78.7% of injury incidents, the table saw lacked a safety switch. In numerous instances, the blade had been removed for the sake of convenience.
• Avulsions, abrasions, and contusions are examples of other table saw injuries.
• Aside from the fingers and hands, injuries to the eyes, head, face, and wrists were also reported.
According to the National Consumers League, table saw injuries cause accident victims about $31,000/year.
Table saw manufacturers can be held liable for failing to do everything possible make a product that is safe for use, not warning about possible dangers, or not including instructions to ensure safe use.
Survey of Injuries Involving Stationary Table Saws, CPSC (PDF)
Table Saw Injuries Out of Control, National Consumers League says, Consumer Chronicle, May 25, 2011
Consumer Product Safety Commission to discuss stricter regulations for table saws, The Washington Post, September 23, 2011
CPSC wants to stop daily table saw amputations, USA Today, February 2, 2011

More Blog Posts:
Preventing Injuries to Children: Are Gas Fireplaces a Burn Hazard?, Product Liability Law Blog, March 8, 2010
Products Liability Settlements Reached In Furniture Defect Lawsuits Against Martha Stewart and Kmart Over Patio Chairs That Caused Finger Injuries, Product Liability Law Blog, August 20, 2011
Treadmill Accident: Mike Tyson’s Daughter Dies After Her Neck Gets Caught in Exercise Machine Cord, Product Liability Law Blog, May 30, 2009

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