'It's Just Safer That Way': Government May Mandate Quick Stop Technology For Table Saws

There are more than 30,000 injuries caused by table saws each year. But there’s a way to prevent those injuries, and that technology might be mandated by the US government.

Tuesday, April 2nd 2024, 9:38 pm



There are more than 30,000 injuries caused by table saws each year.

But there’s a way to prevent those injuries, and that technology might be mandated by the US government.

A table saw is a popular tool used for cutting materials quickly and with precision, but it comes with risk for serious injuries.

“It is definitely one of the most dangerous tools in the shop simply because with the blade spinning at the speeds it does and the direction it does, it pulls your workpiece into the blade,” said Matt Baxter, the assistant manager at Woodcraft of Tulsa.

He uses tools like table saws on the regular.

“I’ve always paid very close attention to what I’m doing and where my hands are,” he said.

Manager Laura Kane says some people aren’t as careful as Baxter and could pay the price.

“There’s so many people that come in, and I’m not kidding, they’ll come in, and they’ll have missing fingers,” she said.

But there is technology that prevents these injuries. Made by a company called SawStop, once it detects contact with skin, it triggers the blade to stop spinning immediately.

It takes a matter of seconds for a blade to severely hurt someone, but with safety features like the ones on the SawStop, what once was a serious injury is now just a nick.

“The break cartridge has an electrical current in it that runs through the blade and then it completes the circuit using the electrical current that is naturally present in your body,” said Baxter.

Baxter says it can save fingers and hands.

Although this technology has been around for a while, it's not required for companies to use. 

But the Consumer Product Safety Commission is now proposing a rule to mandate table saws with safety brakes on all saws sold in the United States.

“It’s just safer that way, it's just so much safer,” said Kane.

Manufacturers have fought against it, saying it would raise the price of table saws for consumers. But Kane and Baxter say it’s a better price to pay than a hospital bill after losing a finger.

“Once it gets out there, it’s going to be a really good thing,” Kane said.

In October, the Consumer Product Safety Commission voted to move forward on the mandate, and the commission is expected to get approval later this year.

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