Annually, more than 4,000 Americans suffer amputations while using table saws and nearly 30,000 more need emergency room treatment with lesser injuries. Sadly, these injuries don’t have to happen at all. For many years now a table saw manufacturer called Sawstop (http://www.sawstop.com/ ) has manufactured its table saws using technology that stops a table saw blade nearly instantaneously when contact is made with human skin. Years ago I discovered this technology while investigating a table saw accident and had the opportunity to speak with Sawstop’s owner. He imparted that the rest of industry has been resistant to this amazing technology because of its cost.
A recent article published by NPR discusses the Sawstop technology, efforts to make it mandatory on certain saws and the continuing resistance of industry and government to same: “Despite Proven Technology, Attempts To Make Table Saws Safer Drag On.” (http://n.pr/2upVjYd). Given the foregoing resistance, it may ultimately be that the lawsuits of injury victims provide the ultimate pressure that forces change. In California products can be deemed dangerous and/or defective where the risk of a particular design outweigh its benefits. While the cost of this technology is an element of this analysis, the cost to society of unnecessary saw injuries are, in this author’s opinion, vastly more significant.