According to the National Consumer League (NCL), table saw injuries have risen to 40,000 per year, an increase of 10,000 over the past decade. Approximately 10 percent of these injuries result in finger amputation. The NCL has been pushing the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to pass improved safety standards to help prevent saw-related injuries.
According to Sally Greenburg, the Executive Director of the NCL, the tool industry is opposed to efforts to implement new safeguards. Most table saws are equipped with plastic guards to prevent injury. However, these guards are simple to remove in order to make the tool easier to use. The NCL is encouraging manufactures to adopt a new technology sold by a company called SawStop. “That technology uses sensors to detect the electrical impulse in a finger or other body part—distinguishing flesh from a piece of wood, for example—and drops the blade down in a fraction of a second below the saw to keep it from injuring the user.” (NCL June 2011 press release) The technology increases the cost of table saws by about $100. Other table saw manufacturers are reluctant to incorporate this technology because of the increased cost to the consumer.
The CPSC’s 2011 Operating Plan includes the preparation of a briefing package addressing proposed safety standards aimed at reducing the risk of table saw injuries. (See page 31 of the 2011 Operating Plan)