Table saws are the tool of choice for millions of construction workers and do-it-yourselfers, which explains why they maim so many people in the U.S. – more than 67,000 a year, according to government estimates.
That number might be much lower, if saw manufacturers adopted a technology known as SawStop, which uses a weak electrical current run through the saw blade to detect when it comes in contact with a person, then almost instantaneously stops it .
But as FairWarning.org reports, power tool manufacturers and trade groups have opposed efforts to require SawStop or similar technology on table saws, arguing that the injury numbers have been inflated and that the government’s estimate of $2.36 billion in annual costs to society from table saw accidents is exaggerated. They also say that requiring such industry-reduction systems would destroy the market for popular lightweight saws, which cost as little as $100.
The resistance to the digit-saving technology “highlights the endless due process that makes it virtually impossible for regulators to enact safety measures over the unified objections of industry,” FairWarning’s Myron Levin writes in an eye-opening examination of the behind-the-scenes battle.
Click here to read the full report and see a video demonstration of the SawStop in action.
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