Skip to main content

If Table Saws Can Be Safer, Why Aren't They?

I found the following story on the NPR iPad App:
http://www.npr.org/2011/06/18/137258370/if-table-saws-can-be-safer-why-arent-they?sc=ipad&f=1001

If Table Saws Can Be Safer, Why Aren't They?
by Chris Arnold

NPR - June 18, 2011

This week some of the nation's biggest power tool companies sent their executives to Washington. They came to argue against tougher safety mandates for so-called table saws, the popular power tools with large open spinning blades. NPR's Chris Arnold has this Reporter's Notebook.

Seven years ago, I was flying on an airplane and thumbing through a woodworking magazine. In the back of it, I came across a little ad for a table saw that wouldn't cut off your fingers. That sounded like a good kind of saw to me; I like doing home-improvement projects. And it just sounded interesting. So when I got home, I called up the inventor. It turned out he had a pretty amazing story to tell.

I found out that table saws cause thousands of these really horrible injuries every year. This inventor, a guy named Steve Gass, had actually figured out a way to prevent just about all of those accidents. Over the years, he's proved that it works, too.

"What you have is somebody who has invented a dramatic technology that seems to reduce virtually all the injuries associated with table saws," says Bob Adler, a commissioner at the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which was holding meetings on the issue this week.

Gass likes to demonstrate how his saw works by using a hot dog. At one point he showed this to me at a high school shop class out in Oregon.

"I'm gonna put this hot dog on top of the board here, as if it was my thumb misplaced in the path of the blade," he said, "and them I'm gonna shove it into the blade."

Gass' saw uses an electrical sensor to detect when the blade touches flesh instead of wood. Within a few thousandths of a second, the blade slammed to a stop.

But as well as the technology works, the major tool companies have failed to put this kind of device on any of their table saws — even eight years after Gass offered to license it to them.

"They came back and said, 'Well, we've looked at it, but we're not interested because safety doesn't sell,' " Gass says.

SawStop, Gass' little upstart company, has sold tens of thousands of these safer table saws, and lately things have been heating up in Washington. The National Consumers League last month brought in injured woodworkers to meet with lawmakers and regulators. They want to make the SawStop safety brake mandatory on all table saws.

So just this week, I was back in Washington in a hearing room.

"SawStop is currently available in the marketplace to any consumer who chooses to purchase it," says Susan Young, who represents Black & Decker, Bosch, Makita and other power tool companies.

In other words, let consumers decide. Young says many consumers won't want to pay for the SawStop technology, which could add $100 to $300 in cost, depending on which side you talk to.

Either way, the gears are now turning in Washington. By the end of September, regulators say they'll issue a draft of new safety requirements for table saws. [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

To learn more about the NPR iPad app, go to http://ipad.npr.org/recommendnprforipad

Thomas M Abercrombie


Sent from my iPad

Posted via email from eWaste Disposal and Recycling

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Bottled Water Carries Hidden Cost to Earth

Good for You, Bad for Mother Earth? | $1.79 might seem like a small price to pay for a bottle of water. But it costs the Earth far more than that.

Compared to a liter of tap water, producing a liter of bottled water requires as much as 2,000 times more energy, according to the first analysis of its kind. The study also found that our nation's bottled water habit sucked up the equivalent of 32 to 54 million barrels of oil last year.

"The bottom line is that we should understand better the implications of our choices," said Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security in Oakland, Calif. "It suggests more ways to reduce energy use than maybe we otherwise think of."

Bottled water is a big business that is rapidly getting bigger. From 1976 to 2007, the average amount of bottled water drunk per person per year in the United States jumped from about 6 liters (1.6 gallons) to 116 liters (30.6 gallons).

In 2007, …

HOW AIR POLLUTION HARMS YOUR BODY

HOW AIR POLLUTION HARMS YOUR BODY  DOWNLOAD BROCHURE
Air pollution can cause serious health problems. Rarely, it can even kill people — and we’re not exaggerating. That’s why we care so much about the laws that protect us from air pollution. Read on to learn more about the specific parts of our bodies that are affected by air pollution. Air pollution can be made of tiny particles or gases, and these get into your body when you breathe. Different types of air pollution do different things inside your body. Air pollution can directly irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, before it even gets into the lungs. It can cause runny nose, itchy eyes, and scratchy throat. LUNGS When you breathe in, air moves through your nose or mouth, down your throat into your trachea, and then into your lungs. Pollution can irritate the airways. When that happens, muscles around the bronchi get tight; the lining of the bronchi swell; and the bronchi produce excess mucous. When the airways are constricted, it b…