Appeals court upholds Osorio tablesaw verdict: Feds consider landmark safety standard

comments (177) October 6th, 2011 in blogs

AsaC AsaC, Contributor
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An untrained laborer, who cut into his hand while ripping oak flooring without using the rip fence, won a massive award from the parent company of Ryobi Power Tools. The decision was made in part because Ryobi had neglected to incorporate SawStop-style flesh-sensing brake technology into its small jobsite saws.
A riving knife can stay on the saw for almost every type of cut, since it sits just below the top of the blade, and stays that way when you move the blade up or down or angle it sideways. It keeps the workpiece right on track, preventing it from pivoting onto the back of the blade and kicking back. This allows you to concentrate on the most important thing, keeping your fingers out of harms way.
Every tablesaw manufacturer, including SawStop, has complied with a voluntary standard to include European-style riving knives. This includes portable tablesaws like Boschs 4100DG.
An untrained laborer, who cut into his hand while ripping oak flooring without using the rip fence, won a massive award from the parent company of Ryobi Power Tools. The decision was made in part because Ryobi had neglected to incorporate SawStop-style flesh-sensing brake technology into its small jobsite saws. - CLICK TO ENLARGE

An untrained laborer, who cut into his hand while ripping oak flooring without using the rip fence, won a massive award from the parent company of Ryobi Power Tools. The decision was made in part because Ryobi had neglected to incorporate SawStop-style flesh-sensing brake technology into its small jobsite saws.

The $1.5 million in damages awarded in the Carlos Osorio tablesaw case seemed destined to be overturned, considering the facts of the case. Not only was it upheld yesterday, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission voted to propose a tablesaw safety standard that would mandate that saws all sense fingers and retract their blades instantly. The implications for the industry are massive.

In 2004, SawStop's first cabinet saw hit the market, offering an amazing feature never before seen in woodworking: a blade that instantly senses contact with flesh and snaps out of sight before any real damage can be done. Invetor Steve Gass had tamed the most dangerous tool in the shop, an amazing feat, and unlike thousands of other inventors, actually brought his products to market--himself. Since then, inventor Steve Gass has introduced smaller models of his amazing saw, down to a contractor model, and sold over 28,000 machines in all. His is that increasingly rare, American-manufacturing success story.

The implications were huge for the rest of the tablesaw industry. Did Gass's wonderful invention render all other tablesaws unsafe? And why hadn't the rest of the industry adopted Gass's technology when he first brought to them, or licensed it after he had proven it in the real world? Accusations flew back and forth, with many millions of dollars at stake for both sides. Ultimately the courts would decide.

Faced with an existential threat, the rest of the industry circled the wagons, turning to their long-standing trade association; the Power Tool Institute. Formed in 1968, PTI had already been working on tablesaw safety issues for many years. PTI claimed that Gass's licensing terms had made it impossible for them to adopt his invention without pricing their saws out of the market, and that his patent is so broadly worded that it would be extremely difficult for them to come up with any technology that did something similar.

Tablesaw Technology Called into Question

The inevitable lawsuit came in 2006, when lawyers representing the insurer of Carlos Osorio, a flooring installer injured on a Ryobi tablesaw, filed a complaint against One World Technologies, Ryobi's parent company, to recover their expenses. And in 2010, surprising many in the industry, including me, his insurers won $1.5 million in damages. It's all about subrogation, a legal doctrine used to describe situations like these, where an insurance company is the actual plaintiff, not an individual.


The basis for the decision was Gass's invention, in other words, that there was a technology on the market that would have saved Osorio's fingers. But would it, or rather could it, have? Gass has taken larger saws to market, equipped with his device, but I've yet to see it work in a jobsite-size saw, the lightweight type that dominates the marketplace and the kind Osorio was using. Then there was what Osorio was doing when he cut into his hand: ripping a strip of flooring with not only the safety equipment removed but without using the rip fence! And ramming it through after it kept jamming. Also, Osorio had received zero instruction by his employer about how to use the saw. So Ryobi was liable?!

Like many others, I was sure that the case would be overturned on appeal, once the defense team had a chance to get its act together and mount better witnesses and experts. It was upheld yesterday, and Osorio's award stands. The implications for the industry are huge.

New Safety Standard in the Works

The other shoe dropped yesterday, when the Consumer Product Safety Commission voted 5-0 to propose a new tablesaw safety standard that would force every manufacturer to come up with a technology that does basically what Gass's does, sense hand proximity and brake the blade in milliseconds.

This is a potentially big win for tablesaw users of all stripes, but as currently construed, I found the CPSC's briefing package, to contain a host of errors and assumptions. While the researchers did talk to PTI, no one called FWW, or any of our expert authors, or any of the other magazines as far as I know, all of whom have been watching the industry and defining best practices for decades. That said, this is an ANPR, or advance notice for proposed rulemaking, and the CPSC is asking for expert testimony. Fine Woodworking is preparing its response, which I can promise will be comprehensive and unbiased.

Although the CPSC report represents an impressive amount to reasearch, there are problems, centering mostly on a weak understanding of a riving knife and its implications. PTI's response to the SawStop technology--the riving knife and a much improved blade cover--was a huge step forward for tablesaw safety. While quietly trying to develop their own flesh-sensing technology (still no word on that), they got something done that FWW's authors have been asking for for years. They adopted European-style riving knives (right), and got the Underwriter's Laboratory to mandate them for all new saws. Every tablesaw manufacturer, including SawStop, has complied with the voluntary standard.

Roughly 40 percent of hand-to-blade contact on the tablesaw (depending on how you read the data) is caused by kickback, and kickback causes many other injuries, too. The riving knife is a cost effective way to eliminate kickback--completely. It works on all types of saws, adds just a few dollars to their manufacture, has no complicated electronics, and it almost never has to come off the saw for any type of cut. And when it does, it goes on and off in seconds. That's not to mention that the riving knife lets the user concentrate on Job 1, keeping one's precious digits intact. Also, more use of the riving knife will mean more use of the blade cover too, which snaps on and off easily on most new systems, and that will further reduce incidences of hand-to-blade contact, perhaps dramatically. The old safety gear definitely got discarded, in fact that's partly why Carlos Osorio got hurt (no splitter or blade cover in place), but riving knives won’t be.

But the CPSC document is based on data from before the UL mandate, when people threw their splitters in the corner of the shop to gather dust. That's my main problem with the CPSC finding so far: It does acknowledge the new UL mandate about riving knives, but does not fully acknowledge the implications.

SawStop's Steve Gass Answers Our Questions

I put these and many other questions to Steve Gass over the past day, and his answers have been quick and candid. Go here for our full Q&A.



More on Tablesaw Safety

Fight Kickback with a Riving Knife - See kickback in action and learn how a riving knife can help prevent it.

Blade Brake Inventor Aims to Compete with SawStop - When this blade guard senses flesh, the blade stops in about 1/8 of a second.

Hear Woodworkes Talk About Accident Stories - Hear first-hand accident stories and learn practical safety tips for your own shop.

posted in: blogs, Tablesaw, safety

Comments (177)

DrBob4390 DrBob4390 writes: I am a long-time woodworker. I own both a 10" Radial Arm Saw and a 10" Hybrid Cabinet Saw. I still have all of my fingers and, there are no holes in my shop walls from flying parts. I believe the SawStop technology may be useful for those individuals who fall into the category of "YOU CAN'T FIX STUPID!" and disable all of the safety features the manufacturer incorporated into the saw.

Before I could afford a cabinet saw I used a RYOBI BT3000. As with all of the other saws on the market at the time I purchased it, all of the safety devices could be removed from the unit...not a wise thing to do but you did so at your own risk.

My question throughout the litigation was "Why wasn't the employer liable? After all, it was pointed out that the employer provided the modified equipment. Once a piece of equipment is modified by its owner, the owner assumes liability. If I were to go out and remove the air bags from my vehicle and then become involved in an accident causing severe bodily injury, I guarantee that GM would not be held liable. However, as I previously stated, YOU CAN'T FIX STUPID...even in our courts.

That said, have any of you cut anything containing hide (urea) glue? I have occasion to work on period reproduction pieces and restoration of other items which contain HIDE Glue. Not a good idea on a SawStop table saw!!! If I am forced to use this technology is SawStop going to pay for the replacement cartridge every time that I cut into a lamination that contains hide glue?
Posted: 5:45 pm on November 20th

gymguy gymguy writes: How about those of us with Powermatics and Deltas that would like to install a Saw Stop kit. I can't afford to junk my expensive industrial saw with many years of useful life left in it. I believe that if a field installable kit was made available SawStop would sell a ton of them. I know that it wouldn't be easy to accommodate all saws since I believe the technology involves electrically isolating the blade from the cabinet but I believe that it is possible. Also it might require some "tuning" to make sensing between a live finger and wet wood possible to prevent inadvertent triggering (which is very costly since it involves throwing away the blade mechanism ever time an event is sensed, finger or otherwise). Maybe the problems of such a field install would be too great for the lay person. Even if a factory trained field installer was required I would buy it.
Posted: 4:08 pm on November 16th

thoma7329 thoma7329 writes: If they make it a requirement on all new saws then they need to void the patent at the same time. Or at least limit the patent wording so that the other manufactures have a fighting chance to make a device to do the same thing. Otherwise you force everyone to have to buy from the single source.

This was part of the original objections with making this feature mandatory over 10 years ago.
Posted: 12:43 pm on November 16th

DavidStrickland DavidStrickland writes: I am a hobbiest but have been at it for over thirty years and have a family back ground in constructionand so have seen some scary things on the jobsite. While between jobs in my primary career I had the pleasure of working with a talented professional contractor who like many here have said cuts safety corners and this concerned me but since I had knowledge of the tools wasnt worried for myself. I find it extremely hard to understand that a court would allow the crusifiction of an industry when a single indivdual is at fault, the contractor.Period... I dont fault the injured except to say that push sticks are easily made as well as questions asked and in America even on a jobsite a person as the right to stand up for their personal safety. I would walk away from the job even one needed badly if I could see that the environment was going to cost me life and limb. You lose both ways but at least with walking away you have saved life and limb to continue providing as a whole.
No I am not a safety freak I run my saw without some of its equipment and
Yes after 30 years I still show it the fear it deserves. If one day I cut something off I will be from my stupidity Not the saw maker. Would I purchase a safer saw? I dont know.
Posted: 10:27 am on November 16th

weolmstead weolmstead writes: Mr Christiana may be very good with wood, but perhaps should get advice before opining on legal matters. The most prominent error is that we are not in Italy - appellate courts never take additional testimony or evidence. They are bound to the record before them, and have to grant great deference to the fact finding done in the trial court. If the trial court was wrong on the law, the appellate court could fix it, but bad work by defense attorneys does not give them a second chance.

I've owned a SawStop for nearly a decade, and it's clear that many of the comments here are based on ignorance. Facts do matter people - go to SawStop's web site and read the actual incidents that are sent in.

And the hardheartedness show by some commentators is a bit shocking. Blaming the victim because he didn't ask for training? Have you ever been on a jobsite? Do you have any idea the pressure on hired hands to do as they're told and keep their jobs?
Posted: 6:12 am on November 16th

hawkeye26 hawkeye26 writes: Osorio should have known to use the table saw with the fench and a push stick. All he had to do is ask someone to show him how to use the saw. People use table saws daily and not get hurt. They do not ignore safety.the makers of table saws should not be held responsible just because people refuse to be safe and not learn proper use of them.
Posted: 8:23 pm on November 15th

usafchief usafchief writes: Some place in here, I posted a comment before, but my ire still hasn't returned to reasonable control.........The federal government has constantly and consistently tried to protect IDIOTS from themselves through legislation. If they would quit trying to protect the idiots of this country-, perhaps attrition could solve a big part of the problem...... ASA, why don't you slam that wiener into the blade, instead of sneaking up on it, you know like a kick back might induce.. I have learned one thing about Fine Wood Working Editors since 1975 (Original subscription), with the exception of Jim Richie, and that is, they have a very high opinion of their opinion........ Why someone, or some magazine that thinks that hand tools are the mark of the Craftsman and the power tool is the mark of a lesser skilled, would bother with Saw Stop is beyond me. Unless it is to degrade those of us that lived through the 20th and into the 21st century. My Craftsman 10" that I bought new in 1972 still has its guard, facsimile riving knife and anti-kick back pawls intact in the bottom of the custom cabinet..... Remember: there is no such thing as an accident in woodworking shop, but there is a whole shop full of stupidity lurking about. Would I like a new saw? Yes... Would I buy a SawStop?? Hell no, at 80 years old, I believe I have finally learned not to be stupid- at least while in the shop....
Posted: 11:23 am on November 15th

guitargeek guitargeek writes: Stop paying people for being stupid.

Posted: 8:56 am on November 15th

Bob_Price Bob_Price writes: I have been wondering for some time why someone hadn't proposed dynamic braking as a solution to the problem. As a Manufacturing Engineer, I have designed that capability into several machine tools and automation systems. You can readily plug reverse a 10 HP motor with the right control system.

The combination of the new riving knife, proper guarding regulations and the dynamic braking concept should go a long way towards improving table saw safety without the need to self-destruct the table saw.

Bob Price
Posted: 8:37 am on November 15th

chin1 chin1 writes: Training and safety is the upmost importance when using power tools and be accountable forour own actions.Because of untrain labor and a moment not watching what one was doing the end result may force ever wood worker to have (saw stop) on their machinary.Nobody care to mention that to replace the brake on those machine cost in the range of 300-600 dollors a pop.We must train and be safe ourself instead of blaming someone esle for our actions.
Posted: 7:57 am on November 15th

ieiswingle ieiswingle writes: So what! I have a Delta Industrial cabinet saw, the old style made in the USA. I added a riving knife, hold downs and use push sticks. I'll find a great deal at auction to replace it when needed.
What I haven't added is the capability of my saw to fire off a blade destroying flesh sensor. The same sensor that destroys $160 or more with of equipment each time it ALSO encounters high moisture, metal filings or the occasional rusty object in repurposed lumber. Yes guys, ask a shop teacher at an art collage haw many blades and saw stop cartridges he replaces a week. And nary a finger got near a blade.
Your all duped! Saw stop has found a way to hide disposables, expensive repeat sales into a table saw.
Posted: 7:26 am on November 15th

cherokeescot cherokeescot writes: Brother Raeford on "The Big Show" opined years ago that "You cant pass enough laws to protect all the stupid people." His words, not mine.
The greatest thing Ive ever seen is Tech Advantage;s Safety Saw Guide. IT WORKS. The reasons I like them is because they eliminate the need to even get close to the blade in the first place. The greatest feature is that with mine, and i no longer use my saw without it unless I'm ripping large stock like plywood, is that it saves me hours and hours of sanding. It forces your equipment to cut a straight line every time.
I dont know what they cost these days but I do remember seeing one on EBay.
Go get one boys and help keep your fingers.
Posted: 5:13 am on November 15th

ElGordo2 ElGordo2 writes: Superficially, the saw stop technology sounds great, and Gass is a great promoter. However, as is typical for everything in our modern society, the saw-stop technology is totally being oversold. The slow movement of a hot dog into the blade is a totally unrealistic test. I guarantee that if I moved my finger into the blade at slow speed that pain would be equally effective as a saw stop. There is no way, according to the laws of physics, that the blade would stop in time to prevent serious injury if fingers are rapidly shoved into the blade. Look at chain saw safety. Chaps are only effective because they provide a barrier in the initial milliseconds of the incident. I would like to see a demo with a rapid contact with a hot dog consistent with a slip or kick-back event.

Safety starts with and remains the primary responsibility of the user. Saw Stop should definately not be a mandate, it should remain an option.
Posted: 9:57 pm on December 29th

Pete_504 Pete_504 writes: I was trained, I followed safety recommendations, I had an excellent safety record, and I lost a finger on a table saw. I was careless for just a moment and the results were very serious. It took me a year to get the courage to turn the table saw back on. That said I did not purchase a SawStop when I was in the market for a new unit a year ago. I choose a well rated cabinet saw instead. If someone wants to purchase a unit with flesh sensing technology they should have that option. It should not be mandated by our government. Once again FWW presents a fine article that gets attention and reaction from it readers. What more can you ask from a publication?
Posted: 10:52 pm on December 1st

johnontwowheels johnontwowheels writes: This a landmark case and will change the face of the industry. Not quite in the same way Ralph nader did with the Pinto case, but similarities are there. The ethics of the some of the dominant corporations in power tool manufacturing stink when you find out how they treat small players. This case will make them design the best safety into their products, if they don't - get taken to court by the insurers.
Posted: 6:43 pm on October 19th

Sandy32 Sandy32 writes: Once again we hear folks railing against the government, the infringement on freedom of choice, and the lack of personal responsibility. I don't hear them quite so loud when it comes to mandating a variety of other safety rules such as food production, preparation, and handling; water quality; air traffic control rules; and a whole host of other government "intrusions" into our lives. Hard hats on construction sites--no way, right? You want freedom folks? Then return to the working conditions in factories at the beginning of the 20th century. While you are at it, get rid of all those pesky rules about the requirements for vaccinations--why should I have to have my kid vaccinated for polio and diphtheria and measles--and let's get the government out of doing basic medical research. Would those opposed to the government mandating safety on table saws be opposed if the price remained the same? If so, that explains why there is no need to pay attention to them? If not, then it is just a matter of cost--and certainly not principle.

Posted: 6:07 pm on October 19th

Sullivan_ Sullivan_ writes: Even if a Saw Stop type technology were available in a benchtop model, any contractor that would allow an employee to operate equipment without proper training and safety devices, surely would not have paid extra money for a tablesaw equipped with this technology. I see it all the time, contractors hiring unskilled cheap labor, equipment in disrepair and not enforcing proper safety practices. Osorio was set up to be the next "accident waiting to happen".
Posted: 9:39 pm on October 17th

DLWoodworker DLWoodworker writes: 2dtenor: You are right; it was not just Osorio's fault; but also his ignorant boss. Two idiots don’t make a right.

How many years have there been tables saws. I was taught right and have respect not just for a tables saw but all machines. They know one thing, to cut, shape or drill.

There is not anyone that can sit around and think of every stupid thing an untrained person can or could do. Accidents are caused not just happen.

That is right, keep the bs government out of my shop. That’s another problem with insurance. If a company can get away with it they won’t pay insurance and would rather pay a fine that is cheaper than insurance.

There are plenty of blogs that corporations do not have anything to do with. I don’t need a corp. to provide me with an income; I have a truck and insurance. I do think about life everyday, Rickie!

Posted: 7:58 pm on October 17th

LGMurphySr LGMurphySr writes: Mr Gass offered it to the industry. They could not have it for free so they didn't want it. This coupled with the possibility that when the fundamental differences are realized by the non woodworking world the industry would be sitting on warehouses of obsolete equipment.
When a new technology is available that makes as big a difference as this does, it can't be ignored. Imagine an auto maker refusing to equip their vehicles with safety belt systems that accomodate child restraints. It would be in court much faster than than this issue was.
Posted: 9:45 am on October 17th

Shozan Shozan writes: It may be smart to add this technology, it may be brilliant, necessary, clever, moral, decent, and low calorie. So what.
CPSC doesn't get to tell me to buy anything, at least in this country, or so the 10th Amendment to the Constitution says.

Butt out.
Posted: 10:23 pm on October 16th

2dtenor 2dtenor writes: TheOne: In the law, fault is not an indivisible quantity that must rest solely on one entity. It wasn't totally Osorio's fault; it was partially his fault. The jury determined that Osorio was 35% at fault.

A manufacturer should foresee that people who are not adequately trained will be using their equipment. Some of them may have no appreciation for the danger which inheres in a tablesaw. It doesn't matter whether these people should be using the tablesaw; the fact is that it will happen.

You seem to have no deep appreciation for the need for safety devices, so let me use an analogy. Your municipality should not have a fire department because, if your house catches on fire, it's your own fault.

You say that the government should have no concern for what happens in our shops. I have no love for big government, but . . . when some of these people get hurt, they have no insurance. Who pays their medical bills? Who pays for their Social Security disability?

By the way, without anyone running corporations, you would not have your computer to post on this blog. You would not have an automobile. You probably would not have a job. You would not have a grocery store or pharmacy available to supply your needs. Instead of reacting emotionally . . . think about it!
Posted: 4:46 pm on October 16th

DLWoodworker DLWoodworker writes: I am sorry the guy was hurt. But it was totally his fault. He should not of been using the saw, he had no idea how to use it and doing un-safe cuts. I have respect not just for my table saw but all my machines.n There is not any safety features on my table saw. I stop and think every time before I use it or any machine.

The government and Consumer Product Safety Commission need to butt out. The next level will be brakes on drill presses, routers, jointers, lathes....
I won't have this device on my saw. I would take it off if I ever had one. It's none of their business on what any does in their shop.

The U.S. would be well off without the current government, CEO's and bankers. Get rid of the corp greed and stupidity of the government.

Posted: 10:02 pm on October 15th

roundedover roundedover writes: So, for an additional $150 or so per saw, we could eliminate saw-flesh contact injuries. Sounds like a bargain to me, versus the pain, medical cost, and possible impairment. I know I'd get in line to buy a new safe version of the current highly rated tablesaws.
Posted: 6:05 pm on October 15th

2dtenor 2dtenor writes: "He jests at scars that never felt a wound." It is overly simplistic to say that anyone who gets hurt in a shop is stupid or deserves what happens to them; it simply does not account for human nature. Even those of us who try to be always vigilant have had near misses or minor injuries in the shop and it is simply good luck, fate, and the hand of God that saved us from a more serious injury. There are neophytes in the shop trying to learn, there are experienced craftsmen who have sudden and unexpected distractions or interruptions, etc. Accidents will happen to intelligent, thinking people. If it was your son or father who got injured, your attitude might change.

It is a straw man argument to sarcastically observe that perhaps cars should have radar, airplanes should have parachutes for the plane, etc. The law of negligence requires that a manufacturer adopt an effective safety device when the cost of the precaution is less than the product of the probability of harm and the magnitude of harm. For example, if I have a table saw and I am offered SawStop technology for $150 per unit, I should adopt it if the likelihood of the harm it can prevent, multiplied by the cost of that harm, is less than $150 per unit. The law does not require unreasonably burdensome safety precautions and it does not require safety devices which will destroy the utility of the manufactured item. The law does not require that a manufactured item be perfectly safe; it requires that it be reasonably safe.

The problem with this case is that most of the readers have an inflexible, unexamined attitude which they think is superior to any reasoned analysis. By the way, how many of you actually read the decision of the appellate court?
Posted: 8:47 am on October 15th

DJJR DJJR writes: Not surprisingly, FW is clearly the stooge of the tool manufacturers. I'm cancelling my subscription forthwith. They have a conflict of interest here and don't seem to acknowledge it (though perhaps somewhere in the hundreds of comments this has already been said).
Posted: 11:14 pm on October 14th

Joelem Joelem writes: Now I'm convinced that all airplanes should have parachutes...for the airplane. You know..."best available technology", and all that. Oh, and all land vehicles should have front reading radar to..."stop the car stupid, that's a wall". Operators of these land and air vehicles are trained to operate without the benefit of "best available technology". As a business owner and employer of people who operate and engage in potentially dangerous situations, I see the outcome of this in only 1 of 2 possible ways. The employer has a responsibilty to take into account the skill level of all employees and make sure that equipment training and safety standards are understood and followed. The employee has responsibility to act in accordance with training standards and follow the safety rules. Employers need to have insurance for these inevitable accidents. Back to one of two ways...employees who follow the rules, "hope you get better soon and back to work". Employees who don't follow the rules, "you're fired!". PS, did I mention responsibily?
Posted: 10:40 am on October 14th

JimKoren JimKoren writes: People keep mixing owners and employees. If you own the business or have your own workshop at home, you should be able to do what ever you want as long as it doesn't cost others. However, if you employ workers who will use a table saw, it's your responsibility to ensure that they are protected by safety devices and/or insurance that pays for losses due to injuries on the job. The real problem is that employers don't honor that responsibility forcing lawsuits and government regulation.

Employers who hire workers without paying workers comp insurance should be sued if the worker is injured and the employer doesn't provide just compensation. The insurance companies can then raise the rates on those who don't use safety devices.

Employers are causing this problem, not the government or the workers.

And I'm sick of hearing about how it's the users fault. Even the best of us are not perfect. Accidents happen. Accept it! The issue is not fault, but compensation if your injured on the job.
Posted: 10:55 pm on October 12th

1100stx 1100stx writes: There is an infinite number of ways to get hurt in your shop. You can spend a billion dollars and eliminate one. Infinity -1=Infinity. Use your God given brain for something other than a hat rack and you may not get injured.
Posted: 8:04 pm on October 12th

1100stx 1100stx writes: Wonder how they will be able to mount that brake on a circle saw or a jig saw or a router or a hammer?? This is disgusting.
Posted: 7:53 pm on October 12th

cahudson42 cahudson42 writes: Many, many years ago as a young engineer involved in minicomputer machine tool control, I was taught that I was responsible to use 'best available practice' in whatever I designed.

If I did not use 'best available practice', then our company would be liable for damages should anyone be injured. If I did use 'best available practice', then if an injury happened, we had a defense. We used 'best available practice' - nothing more could have been expected.

Clearly, the SawStop blade sensing technology is without question the 'best available practice' when it comes to table saw design for avoiding amputations and any blade-contact injury.

Saw manufactures who adopt it should not face any damage suits because of blade contact. While those who do not, should expect them. Justifiably..
Posted: 6:48 pm on October 11th

JimRoth53 JimRoth53 writes: It's tough to blame the lawyers, and incorrect to blame the courts. The plaintiff's lawyer was representing his client; and to be sure, there are many who wholeheartedly believe that all of these saws should have these special safety as a standard feature to prevent serious injuries, even those caused by an untrained and perhaps not so intelligent individual. And the courts were just applying the law to the facts as found by the jury. And the most significant part of this is that the jury believed the plaintiff's expert, despite (or perhaps because of) his interest in the "missing" safety device. That's one of the things about a jury verdict- you never know what they will determine to be the facts. In fact, that is one of the reasons so few cases go to a verdict: the attorneys and their clients are never sure what a jury will do.

The question that has me most perplexed is what happens if 10 years from now, the SawStop is on the market and manufacturers have this as an option on their saws, for and extra $100. Someone like Osorio uses a saw without SawStop features and receives the injury. Will the saw manufacturer still be held responsible?

And by the way, the testimony was that this technology would add less than $150 to each saw.
Posted: 1:03 pm on October 11th

WesfrLI WesfrLI writes: I believe it was the great American philosopher/stand-up comedian, Ron White, who made the observation: "You can't fix stupid!"
Posted: 11:17 pm on October 10th

WesfrLI WesfrLI writes:
Posted: 11:14 pm on October 10th

Slamon Slamon writes: That decision sucks, Mr. Gass sucks, and our government really sucks. Leviathon needs to end this crap or be overthrown. I will immediately disable any 'SawStop' technology mandated on a table saw I Mr. Gass(bag) laughs all the way to the bank. What a jerk.

@leftistelf, anytime the government gets involved the consumer loses, period.

@IrvinGomez, if you expect the government to save you from yourself: you are not “free” and you deserve to lose your liberty, leave me alone. Oh, and trying to draw a line to civil rights, how stupid is that? Dork.

Posted: 8:33 pm on October 10th

PIattorney PIattorney writes: The Osario decision is interesting because Ryobi lost on the "categorical liability" question. Generally the Courts do not let juries decide if a product is defective based solely on a risk/utility analysis, without some type of inherent defect. Here there was really no claim that the Ryobi saw was defective, apart from the fact that it lacked the SawStop technology.

Usually plaintiffs lose on categorical liability cases. It has happened in table saw cases too. In the 90s there were several cases in which plaintiffs claimed that certain table saws were defective because they did not incorporate a Biesemeyer-style overhead blade guard system. The plaintiffs' argument was you had to remove a conventional blade guard to make a non-through cut (i.e. dado) because the splitter that supported the guard was in the way. The plaintiffs alleged that a saw with a conventional blade guard was defective.

Those cases lost. The defense was simply, if you want an overhead blade guard you should purchase it. The defendants contended that the Biesemeyer system adds functionality, but that doesn't make a conventional blade guard defective.

If you are going to argue categorical liability, you are in a much better position if you offer consumers the opportunity to purchase a safer version of the same product. Then the risk/utility question falls to the consumer, not the manufacturer.

SawStop's inventor Stephen Gass was the plaintiff's expert in the Osario case. Obviously he had, as they say, "a dog in the hunt." That is, he had an interest in the outcome of the case. If Ryobi lost, Gass stood to benefit because the major manufacturers would be pressured to license his technology.

But having an interest in the outcome doesn't invalidate Gass' argument that his technology should be utilized. He's in a position where he can promote a safer saw and benefit if it is successful. The fact that he was willing (by his account) to accept a licensing deal that paid him a percentage based on sales of saws utilizing his technology gives him credibility. If saws with his technology sold, he would benefit and so would the manufacturer.

Ultimately every product liability lawsuit comes down, at least in part, to a risk/benefit analysis. And sometimes the analysis is so one-sided the choice is removed from consumers. You can't buy a car without a seat belt anymore. But in many cases there is a minimum standard, and above that the consumer decides. You can drive a small car with seat belt and airbags, or you can drive a top of the line Mercedes with top of the line safety features.

Should the SawStop technology become the new standard? Ultimately that is a judgment call. But Ryobi and the other manufacturers missed an opportunity by preventing consumers from making the call themselves. If they offered a saw with Gass' technology it doesn't make their other products without the technology defective - it merely puts the cost/benefit analysis into the hands of the consumer.
Posted: 4:17 pm on October 10th

David_Heim David_Heim writes: Bigsby 59 overstates the power of the Federal Government, in my view. I can't think of a single instance in which a mandatory safety standard was made retroactive. Not airbags. Not safety belts. Not power lawn mowers. Not baby cribs. Not hair dryers. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
The reason is simple: It would be insanely expensive and virtually impossible to enforce a retroactive standard. The only way a safety standard could be made retroactive is if every single manufacturer issued a recall for every single product it had ever made before the new standard took effect and sent every single customer a new, safer saw. But even that wouldn't work. Recalls draw in only 30 percent of the affected products, at best. Typically, it's more like 10 percent.
So relax, Bigsby 59. Big Brother isn't going to wrench your old tablesaw from your cold, dead fingers. Assuming that the old saw hasn't removed your fingers already.
Posted: 3:24 pm on October 10th

David_Heim David_Heim writes: Bigsby 59 overstates the power of the Federal Government, in my view. I can't think of a single instance in which a mandatory safety standard was made retroactive. Not airbags. Not safety belts. Not power lawn mowers. Not baby cribs. Not hair dryers. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
The reason is simple: It would be insanely expensive and virtually impossible to enforce a retroactive standard. The only way a safety standard could be made retroactive is if every single manufacturer issued a recall for every single product it had ever made before the new standard took effect and sent every single customer a new, safer saw. But even that wouldn't work. Recalls draw in only 30 percent of the affected products, at best. Typically, it's more like 10 percent.
So relax, Bigsby 59. Big Brother isn't going to wrench your old tablesaw from your cold, dead fingers. Assuming that the old saw hasn't removed your fingers already.
Posted: 3:24 pm on October 10th

IrvinGomez IrvinGomez writes: Bigsby59 writes: "...I was born a free American. I expect the right to make my own decisions about my own safety."

Sorry to burst your bubble, Bugsby. Nobody has EVER been born a "free american" in the naive sense you interpret it. Being "free" has nothing to do with government legislating what it considers best for its citizens. We conduct our "free" lives in the USA, day in and day out, under literally thousands of government-mandated rules and regulations. It has been like that from day one, don't kid yourself. Our country is greater than it wever was. Our lives are more complex, the political problems more complex, everything is more complex (including phones). But I don't pine for the good old days when blacks had to sit in the back of the bus, women were treated like garbage, homosexuals had to live in the shadows, people went around walking "funny" because of polio, etc. etc.

Making table saws safer is good. And our much-despised country will be better for it. Happy and proud to be a Colombian living in the greatest country in the world: the USA.


Posted: 1:06 pm on October 10th

Bigsby59 Bigsby59 writes: I would indeed appreciate the Saw Stop technology on my table saw and may be willing to pay for it were I buying a new saw.

But I was born a free American. I expect the right to make my own decisions about my own safety.

If the government can mandate this sort of minutia in our private lives because it is good for us, it stands to reason that the government can also mandate that every table saw, circular saw, router, band saw etc. that exists in every shop be retrofitted with this same technology.

Please leave us to our own devices, Darwin will take care of the rest.
Posted: 11:23 am on October 10th

GaryW GaryW writes: Does anyone really believe that adding a "flesh detector" to an existing saw or purchasing a SawStop machine will really lower our insurance rates? I doubt it, because I think insurance companies are too tied to politicians and they're just as likely to first protect their own pocketbook.

Does adding a $300 flesh detector to an existing saw include the instantaneous blade brake/retactor? Can the blade brake be added to all existing saws? I doubt it.

Does the blade brake protect our hand if we're wearing a rubber palmed glove? I doubt it, but although I don't wear them, my helper did, and I find maybe 30% of those in the trades wear them too.

I say again, the GD CPSC better consider ALL the ramifications.
Posted: 10:32 am on October 10th

Gerry2334 Gerry2334 writes: This guy has NO common sense and obviously had no business using a power tool in the first place. WOW
Posted: 10:12 am on October 10th

Willie Willie writes: Good thing they did not let Carlos Osorio loose on a spindle molder. Imagine how that would have ended.

This is about lawyers making money, real sad.
Posted: 10:11 am on October 10th

IrvinGomez IrvinGomez writes: The best thing about these comments is the usual

"As a former _________________ (insert whatever fake credentials you can come up with) I can tell you that....".

Forget about Osorio. Forget about being stupid, intelligent, trained or un-trained. Forget that FWW depends on toolmakers to survive, so their 'un-biased coverage' of these issues is questionable at best. Forget about government doing this or doing that.

The crux of the matter is: when buying a new saw, would you be happy to spend an extra $200 to get life-time (at least for the tool) insurance against losing a finger or worse?

I would. In a split second.

Posted: 9:58 am on October 10th

Barrylium Barrylium writes: I recall the time when the entire automobile industry was going to be driven out of existence because the cost of mandatory seat belts would put car prices out of the reach of most people. The arguments against requiring safety improvements on table saws have all been presented against every health, safety, and environmental improvement ever considered.

It is true that sometimes folks take foolish chances, even the most sober and intelligent among us. It is also true that sometimes we poor, fallible creatures let down our guard and pay dearly for a moment's carelessness, a moment that does not have to be disastrous if safety devices were built into the tools we use. We cannot always be perfectly vigilant. Those of us who, like myself, have never been injured by a table saw ought to recognize the role that good luck played in our good fortune, rather than adopt an attitude of smug superiority to those who have suffered grievous injuries.
Posted: 9:37 am on October 10th

DaviB DaviB writes: I do not believe our inept civil system that allows some, untrained and "stupid" to be rewarded for placing themselves in a dangerous position and will Millions from US and even more for his lawyer.

We need common sense when it comes to these types of cases.
Do you realize the COST it will have on the contractors, and consumers if these laws go into effect.

Posted: 8:58 am on October 10th

veranda veranda writes: Let's see. The tablesaw manufacturers resisted ALL safety suggestions for decades, causing incalculable harm, and now we're supposed to feel sorry for them?

I recall reading that Gass asked each tablesaw manufacturer for 5% of the retail price in exchange for using his terrific technology, and they balked at that. It seems to me that would raise the price of the cheapest jobsite saw on the market from $200 to $220. Add in the cost of the sawstopping technology itself (apart from licensing fees) and I bet you've raised the price to $300. Big whup!
Posted: 8:46 am on October 10th

resyakk resyakk writes: I see a lot of criticism of the "courts" here. It was not the courts, but the jury, who concluded that the manufacturer made and sold an unreasonably dangerous product and that the product could have been made in such a way as to prevent the injury. The role of the appellate court is to review the original trial and rule on any errors of the trial judge. An appellate court can only overturn a verdict because the trial judge erred in some significant way.

Furthermore, jury verdicts in my state, Wisconsin, require that 10 of 12 jurors agree on the verdict.
Posted: 8:28 am on October 10th

billoreid billoreid writes: I can't wait for someone to sue Ford or Hyundai or Kia when they get in a wreck because the cheap car they bought doesn't have some sophisticated safety equipment that a Mercedes or Lexus has.
Posted: 7:38 am on October 10th

Woodworking_Nurse Woodworking_Nurse writes: I've been a woodworking hobbiest for about ten years and a Nurse for a few more years. A few years ago I was "Stupid" and in a hurry, and like others here have mentioned, I sliced my thumb on a friends table saw I was borrowing. (No safety items) I knew better and was lucky the damage wasn't worse.

I remember when the Saw stop came on the market and I believe it was another 200+ dollars for a add on feature to certain saws. I thought it was a good idea but couldn't afford it and really still can't afford it at this time.

As for the Lawsuit and The worker, I thought most insurance carriers had a clause protecting them from "Stupid", and would not pay out if they safety procedures were not followed based on best practice. In nursing we have the same thing, if a patient develops a condition that could have been prevented by using best practice the insurance company wont pay the hospital bill, and the cost is borne by the Hospital. So why the insurance company paid in the first place is kind of weird.

I think it goes to say that it would be wrong (In my mind) that to mandate me buying some kind of flesh sensor and protecting me from my own stupidity goes against my right to be stupid if I want to. Granted some Laws are good for the protection of society But when those laws infringe on the rights of the citizens then we have gone to far. A good example might be gun control laws. A little related fact is that there were fewer (Per capita) violent crimes when everyone could own a gun. Ever since we have started gun control average citizens have lost their liberty by being not being able to go through areas of a town were there is a high violent crime rate. (In my opinion, of course)
Posted: 12:22 am on October 10th

paulmouse paulmouse writes: He should have only been allowed to sue his employer for not training him, if he was trained properly and did not follow his training, he should just suck it up.

Posted: 11:05 pm on October 9th

REN590 REN590 writes: I am surprised that the manufacturer was found liable. There seemed like a lot of factors led to Mr. Osorio's injury. I am also disappointed that other tablesaw manufacturers have not stepped up to the plate to either license or develop a competitive safety feature.

In this case I prefer the government implement a compromise. REQUIRE that tablesaw manufacturers OFFER an optional feature as effective and Saw Stop for each tablesaw they sell. Then let the market decide. I've never been injured using my tablesaw, but if I was in the market for a new saw, I would like to have the option to purchase this safety feature.
Posted: 10:52 pm on October 9th

RogerDF RogerDF writes: While doing my due diligence with Sawstop prior to a purchase, I learned that Sawstop will buy your brake module if you activate it with actual flesh. The module includes many data points that can be extracted for analysis and tuning of their software. Those data points include the number of 'tooth touches'. The average number of touches, the guy told me, is 2.

That said, for the Sawstop mechanism to work, you must be injured. There must be an electrical contact between you and the blade. If you are young with sweaty fingers, it won't take much. If you are old and have calloused fingers, the blade will have to hit meat.

So if you slap your hand into a blade, you are going to bleed. I think it unlikely that you will suffer an amputation.

I have a Sawstop and I prefer the presence of the additionally safety to the lack of it. I've had a one saw or another for about 30 years without injury. I got a SS about 6 months ago and it was an easy decision. At the root of my thinking was, "Why the heck not?".
Posted: 8:14 pm on October 9th

RogerDF RogerDF writes: I have a Sawstop ICS and love it. For months after getting that thing, I kept finding little design florishes that made it easier to use. This is not just another cabinet saw with a safety feature. It's a really great saw.

Sawstop is well on the way to pushing other saws off the market.

For schools, Sawstop is a no-brainer. There is a form letter circulating among wood shop teachers that they send to the superintendent and board members. It basically says, "If some kid cuts his thumb off, you have been warned. Don't blame me". The Sawstop generally shows up in a week or so.

For cabinet shops, a Sawstop is a heck of a lot cheaper than rising insurance rates. I'm told that insurance companies are paying attention to whether or not a shop has a Sawstop.

At my local Woodcraft, the manager told me that he is on the verge of dropping the PM and Delta saws. A customer comes in to look at saws with his/her spouse and it's generally the spouse that demands the Sawstop. The manager tells me that he has a hard time keeping the Sawstops in stock. The PM and Deltas aren't moving.

That leaves the small timers: contractors (like Osorio) and the weekend warriors. In the case of the latter, I think a case can be made that the $99 saw in the hands of an amateur is dangerous in many ways and maybe there should be no such thing as a saw made that cheaply. I had one once and it was so dangerous that when I got a better one, I disassembled it and threw it away to make sure no one ever used it. I can easily imagine a budding hobbyist discouraged and dropping out because repeated failures due to a cheap saw.

Honestly, I wonder what will happen if the CPSC does require flesh detection. Originally, Gass didn't want to be in the saw business but now he's in it. His engineers are busy at work adapting the technology to jointers and cutoff saws. I'm not at all sure that he will be interested in licensing the technology.

Posted: 8:02 pm on October 9th

cbkytle cbkytle writes: Thank you for saving people from themselves! I think it's wonderful that the United States is so willing to spend unthinkable amounts of money to save untrained and uneducated MORONS that should not be using something as simple as a pocketknife. This certainly punishes all of us! The ignorant judges that ruled over these cases should be stripped of all of their powers for making decisions about things they have no idea about.
ask much longer can this Country survive, when we punish the intelligent people for what the idiots keep doing?
Posted: 7:39 pm on October 9th

JWTroup JWTroup writes: And legal bull like this is why engineers like me won't bother to bring products to market. For every person willing to take the risk to produce a product or build something there are 100 leeches waiting to sue.
Posted: 7:19 pm on October 9th

rxman rxman writes: Sorry to say, this likely will remove the hobbyist and small shop from the opportunity for a life time of enjoyment in wood working. As my dad once told me – son , ignorance is curable, stupidity is forever-. Washington has forgot and we the people have let it happen that they think they run the show. We have a crop of bureaucrats which have rarely if ever worked for a living other than sitting behind a desk, making up rules that cost productive , energetic and innovators their opportunity for fulfillment/profit and viable business. Just like the boo-haha over “rosewood” and Gibson guitar- If they(Gibsom) violated the trade treaty crafted more than 100 years ago, then strip the Whitehouse of every stick of furniture which has rose-wood in it. Strip the senate and house chambers as they have rose-wood gavels , likely a violation.
Its time for this overzealous regulations to stop! If it looks dangerous, than don’t use it- If the business owner does not provide training in safety and proper tool machine work, sue the business owner- but don’t regulate the craftsman out of business.

Posted: 6:34 pm on October 9th

dmspurr dmspurr writes: Being a full time carpenter and a very part time woodworker, I have seen many things on the jobsite that make me cringe in horror. The most horrifying site was watching a flooring crew use the company tablesaw. All safety devices removed, ripping oak flooring without a fence and making crosscuts freehand. I have seen this time and time again. It's no wonder the new guy on the crew cut his finger off. It is not the manufacturer's responsibility for the stupidity of the user. It does not matter if his boss showed him how to use it, everybody else in that company was probably doing the same thing. I use a push stick always.
Posted: 6:25 pm on October 9th

Gnugs Gnugs writes: How can we feel sorry for an industry that has refused to make a very simple improvement -- the riving knife -- until it was literally shoved down its throat? How can we even trust what they claim?
Here I am, with a saw that doesn't have a riving knife and it's their damn fault. I would feel a lot better if the industry spent its time coming up with safety upgrades that work as well on existing saws and are reasonably affordable.
And they should spend the bucks on trying to come up with alternatives that work and not on the lawyers to fight one solution. How many people really think that if another manufacter comes up with an alternative solution that has to be licensed that the PTI wouldn't spend all their time fighting that one too? Come on people. This mess is fundamentally an issue of corporate greed -- whether you blame Sawstop or not. At least Sawstop didn't pull the attitude "We couldn't care less about putting in riving knives no matter how many people get hurt!" And if you want to blame SawStop for corporate greed, then you only have yourself to blame for industry wide corporate greed to ensure that you could undercut any company that spent the extra money to include the expense of safety features and riving knives and so, sell more of your more dangerous saws.
This whole thing is stupid. If they had all licensed the technology like they were given the opportunity to back when it was more reasonable, the whole issue would be moot. To say that it would have priced saws out of everybody's price range is ridiculous as well -- if everybody had the technology, then the price increase would have been uniform and nobody would have had an advantage. Sure it would have cost more but there would not have been any choice and a lot of people would not be hurting today.
Asa, get a life! The weight of your expertise against one single cutoff finger is a feather in the wind.
Posted: 5:14 pm on October 9th

GaryW GaryW writes: What's to become of my machines if the CPSC gets their way and prematurely forces changes down the industries throats? Will my Felder Format 4 and KF7 be ready for the scrap heap because they can't be retrofitted with a SawStop device? Will I be unable to hire helpers with such machines at GW Woodworking, Inc?

In 40 years of working at woodworking, I've cut one of my hotdog shaped finger once, about a month ago. I was in a hurry to make money in this lousy construction economy, and my haste made some waste to my left index finger, which is still as long as it was the moment before I cut into the end of it. I was at a job site using my old,; small Makita without a splitter or guard (with the fence). I disobeyed two important rules: #1 - don't let the blade protrude more than a half inch above the workpiece's thickness, and #2 - the one my grandpa taught me when I was about 13, when I slightly injured myself in his workshop, "Know where your fingers are, when you're in the shop or on a date." I was reaching for the off-cut when it was about to hit the blade to be shot back in my direction, but I was abiding by rule #3 - NEVER stand behind the blade.

I urge the CPSC not to prematurely legislate any safety device and force it on the industry before ALL its ramifications are considered. I urge them to remember that it would be far more valuable to instead legislate for better safety education for users of these machines. And lastly, the CPSC must consider if any such legislation is designed to protect users or the insurance companies that pay for their mistakes.
Posted: 4:30 pm on October 9th

AnvilheadMarty AnvilheadMarty writes: I'll make a comment to. I've had a tablesaw for many years. I use it a lot. I still have all my fingers in tack because I know not to put my fingers near the blade. And to use the fence and a pushstick for ripping. Use the miter gauge with a piece of hardwood screwed to it, or use a crosscut sled for support when crosscutting. If the man in question didn't know those basic safty points about table saw operation, particularly since FWW magazine and all the other magazine's on woodworking have had many articles on many times, then he had know business even going near the saw. That is what's whrong with this country today is shiester lawyers and politicians butting into issuses they know nothing about, and somebody coming up with some new gadget just to make more money. Sawstop owner is probly not really concerned about our fingers at all. He just wants to sell expensive overpriced tablesaws. If you cut your finger with a handsaw or ax is there going to be a big controversy over expensive gadgets to put on them also. I hope not.
Posted: 4:27 pm on October 9th

ksablak ksablak writes: I am so tired of this type of lawsuit reward. We have to take responsibility for the stupid things we do. Is every knife in your kitchen going to need to be equipped with flesh sensing technology.Enough is enough, shame on the courts.
Posted: 3:55 pm on October 9th

TulsaWayne TulsaWayne writes: It is just amazing to me how we as a civilization have gotten to the point where a couple of hand-fulls of bureaucratic boobs can single handedly wipe put the power tool industry with stupidity on their own.
Posted: 2:44 pm on October 9th

dt_busse dt_busse writes: Has anybody commenting here even taken the time to learn what it was that the jury in this case was asked to decide at the trial, or what questions the appeals court decided (not to get into whether anyone has read the transcript of the trial)?

Does anyone know what the law was that applied to the case?

Does anyone know what has to proven to a jury before a plaintiff can win a negligence suit?

To claim that the answers given by the courts were wrong before even knowing what the questions were is to act without thinking first. To decide that major changes should be made to government procedures without knowing both the basics and the details on what the procedures are right now is to act without doing enough thinking first - that is to say, to act without due diligence.

And for those who claim that the law should be simple and clear, I would ask that you first tell us how life can be made simple and clear and that you learn enough about the English language to be able to lay out your plan in unambiguous terms.
Posted: 1:43 pm on October 9th

taxus taxus writes: "In 2004, SawStop's first cabinet saw hit the market, offering an amazing feature never before seen in woodworking:"

Is this quote true? I am an American cabinetmaker living and working in Germany. I told a friend of mine who´s been in the business for years about this new SawStop that I´ve read about in FWW. He just chuckled and said that there was a guy at a trade fair here in Germany demonstrating something very similar about 25 years ago. He also used a hot dog in the demostration. When challanged to use his own finger, the guy declined much to the amusement of the onlookers.
This friend also said that the idea is not that revolutionary and that it probably involves some sort of ground fault circuit interrupter similar to those found in most circuit-boxes.

I know the main issue in this article is primarily the legal aspects but I am curious to know if anybody else out there has seen something like the SawStop before or if the author is right in saying it has "never before been seen in woodowrking".
Posted: 11:57 am on October 9th

RustyBug RustyBug writes: Professional and skilled drivers make mistakes in a risky endeavor. They know that it is a risky endeavor and freely and willingly choose to engage in it. They have the same degree of freedom to choose the amount of safety (i.e. above the minimum requirements). Just because they choose to spend $$$$$$$ on their safety gear (i.e. better helmet, harness,etc), whereas someone else chooses to spend $$$ on their safety gear ... that's a choice, not a place for a mandate to a higher quality product.
Posted: 11:03 am on October 9th

JoshuaLynncustomfurn JoshuaLynncustomfurn writes: O.k. I'll throw in my two cents on this as it affects my work. I work as the carpenter (or wood guy) for a large electrical company, mainly what I do is build furniture for jobsite use and help them with other issues such as packing large awkard prefabed runs of electrical equipment. At first I was working with an old Delta (no blade cover nor kickback protection) I was fine and to idiot proof the machine while I was away I was sure to drop the blade all the way down. By doing that I was able to use the top as a small table top and at a glance could tell if I needed to be watching for my fingers, never had an incident (if someone needed a cut, I cut it while they waited) We changed shops and got one of the Dewalts contractor saws, came with blade guard and kickback proection (Great!). Put the saw together and didn't even consider leaving those two off, two weeks later a temp with out my knowladge fired up the saw (I stoped the saw in the middle of his cut, I had the fence set and he wasn't using it also he had moved the blade guard back). I asked him if he knew what he was doing, I then asked him to prove it by moving the fence to the appropiate distance from the blade. When he couldn't unlock the fence I told him that any cuts on this machine need to be done by either myself or needs to be authorized by one of my bosses. With my job I am responcible for that equipment and those using it, this is why I leave the guards on and listen for the saw when I'm away from it. Someone elses lack of training or them lying to me about their training is not comming back on me, guards are there to idiot proof as best they can. To me it comes down to this "If you don't know what you're doing get away from the machine." after that it comes down to either training the person or questioning them on why they lied about their abilities. If I have to cripple every machine every time I walk off to take a break or use the can I'm not going to get much of any thing done, I can do it but I can also get better helpers to where I shouldn't need to do it.
Posted: 11:02 am on October 9th

RustyBug RustyBug writes: I suppose that if someone chooses to use a faceshield and breathes toxic fumes, the faceshield company is now liable because they didn't include HEPA filtration and supplied air along with their faceshield ... after all the technology to do so exists.

Also, no more 'regular' goggles, since splashproof goggles are a design option.

The list of possibilities here is endless. The right tool, for the right job. Of course, one could argue that in order to better protect people that ALL TABLE SAWS be outlawed, reverting to hand saws only ... but even then people cut themselves with hand saws as well.

Well-intended, certainly ... misguided and wrong, ABSOLUTELY !!!
Posted: 10:57 am on October 9th

RustyBug RustyBug writes: I once had a talented machinst that worked for me. By most accounts, "He could fix anything."

But he told me the one thing he was sure he couldn't fix ... "I can't fix stupid." It has been said "You can't legislate morality." Likewise, you can't legislate wisdom, but here is a scenario setting up to try.

As a former OSHA rep for the U.S. Navy, I read Brian HicksDDS comment ...

BrianHicksDDS wrote:
The law suit was, again, a big insurance company passing along it's responsibility - which it had been paid to assume - to Ryobi through this suit.

Sadly, this suit being upheld as it has done has grossly missed the point at accountability. It was the employer's respnosibility to provide for proper training (and supervision thereof) of the employee, and while OSHA places that squarely on the shoulders of the employer even in cases of "stupid" employees ... the reason employers have "work comp" is for financial protection (like most insurance) ... and provision for such accountability.

Rather than a provision for such a legal mandate of that type of equipment, insurance companies (who are in the business of making money from taking calculated risk) would be better served to adjust their premiums for those with such safety devices vs. those without such safety devices as the SawStop. BTW, what's gonna happen when someone does get injured with a SawStop device ... it's gonna happen, eventually.

Currently, there are (albeit few) States that do not impose "Helmet Laws" for motorcyclists despite the vastly significant difference a helmet can make in preventing magnitude of head injury. One can easily understand why insurance rates (money-making calculated risk) vary among such states.

I applaud the SawStop ingenuity, and likewise the invention of safety box cutters and safety utility knives. However, there is NO place for mandating that ALL UTILITY KNIVES be designed as a safety utility knife, and force manufacturers to design such devices. Similarly, the SawStop device could be utilized in a redesign of a meatslicer. Eliminating the use of utility knives because such an alternate design exists is not for the courts to mandate.

This is a free enterprise system, and if the insurance company loses money because of a calcualted risk happens to go against them, so be it. They need to learn to better assess those whom they are insuring, not get the courts to do their job, and protect them from the possibility of incurring loss. Which model of saw is being used is no different than a business (or consumer) choosing which vehicle to drive, whether it be an Ford, Volvo, Mercedes, or Rolls Royce.

Ruling and mandating that Ford or Volvo are liable because the did not incorporate the same degree of safety features that Rolls-Royce did is absurd and unconscienceable. Yes,everyone would like to be driving a Rolls-Royce ... but it is not for the courts or the CPSC to mandate that we all be driving a Rolls-Royce or a Hummmer just because they are superiorly built vechicles offering more protection than a Ford F-150.

The length and depth at which this is wrong is huge. The insurance industry is in the business a making money from taking calculated risk. Legislating that risk so that the insurance industry incurs minimal risk (via absolute pass through of a "should" turned into a "shall") is an absolute travesty.

To the good people at Fine Woodworking (et al), this forum does not provide for the depth of exposition of OSHA and the law as is needed, and I have merely primed via analogy. As such, consider this a primer to which I would be most agreeable to expand and assist with, particularly given my OSHA background.

I applaud well intended persons who may have thought it a good idea to incorporate SawStop technology into all products, but a good idea does not constitute grounds for a legal mandate. This is landmark, with enormous implications beyond woodworking into all aspects of products ... and needs to be rectified and restored to propriety.

Posted: 10:46 am on October 9th

RustyBug RustyBug writes: I once had a talented machinst that worked for me. By most accounts, "He could fix anything."

But he told me the one thing he was sure he couldn't fix ... "I can't fix stupid." It has been said "You can't legislate morality." Likewise, you can't legislate wisdom, but here is a scenario setting up to try.

As a former OSHA rep for the U.S. Navy ...

BrianHicksDDS wrote:
The law suit was, again, a big insurance company passing along it's responsibility - which it had been paid to assume - to Ryobi through this suit.

Sadly, this suit being upheld as it has done has grossly missed the point at accountability. It was the employer's respnosibility to provide for proper training (and supervision thereof) of the employee, and while OSHA places that squarely on the shoulders of the employer even in cases of "stupid" employees ... the reason employers have "work comp" is for financial protection (like most insurance) ... and provision for such accountability.

Rather than a provision for such a legal mandate of that type of equipment, insurance companies (who are in the business of making money from taking calculated risk) would be better served to adjust their premiums for those with such safety devices vs. those without such safety devices as the SawStop. BTW, what's gonna happen when someone does get injured with a SawStop device ... it's gonna happen, eventually.

Currently, there are (albeit few) States that do not impose "Helmet Laws" for motorcyclists despite the vastly significant difference a helmet can make in preventing magnitude of head injury. One can easily understand why insurance rates (money-making calculated risk) vary among such states.

I applaud the SawStop ingenuity, and likewise the invention of safety box cutters and safety utility knives. However, there is NO place for mandating that ALL UTILITY KNIVES be designed as a safety utility knife, and force manufacturers to design such devices. Similarly, the SawStop device could be utilized in a redesign of a meatslicer. Eliminating the use of utility knives because such an alternate design exists is not for the courts to mandate.

This is a free enterprise system, and if the insurance company loses money because of a calcualted risk happens to go against them, so be it. They need to learn to better assess those whom they are insuring, not get the courts to do their job, and protect them from the possibility of incurring loss. Which model of saw is being used is no different than a business (or consumer) choosing which vehicle to drive, whether it be an Ford, Volvo, Mercedes, or Rolls Royce.

Ruling and mandating that Ford or Volvo are liable because the did not incorporate the same degree of safety features that Rolls-Royce did is absurd and unconscienceable. Yes,everyone would like to be driving a Rolls-Royce ... but it is not for the courts or the CPSC to mandate that we all be driving a Rolls-Royce or a Hummmer just because they are superiorly built vechicles offering more protection than a Ford F-150.

The length and depth at which this is wrong is huge. The insurance industry is in the business a making money from taking calculated risk. Legislating that risk so that the insurance industry incurs minimal risk (via absolute pass through of a "should" turned into a "shall") is an absolute travesty.

To the good people at Fine Woodworking (et al), this forum does not provide for the depth of exposition of OSHA and the law as is needed, and I have merely primed via analogy. As such, consider this a primer to which I would be most agreeable to expand and assist with, particularly given my OSHA background.

I applaud well intended persons who may have thought it a good idea to incorporate SawStop technology into all products, but a good idea does not constitute grounds for a legal mandate. This is landmark, with enormous implications beyond woodworking into all aspects of products ... and needs to be rectified and restored to propriety.

Posted: 10:42 am on October 9th

jefflew jefflew writes: What does this mean for someone like me who is in the market to buy a new table saw. Should I wait? If so for what?
Posted: 9:56 am on October 9th

David_Heim David_Heim writes: Good reporting and analysis on the saw-safety issue and the Federal Government's impending actions. The issue gives me a sense of deja-vu: Replace "tablesaw" with "lawn mower" and you see the same actions played out 35 years ago. The end-result of that foofaraw may give some insight into how the tablesaw-safety issue will play out.

In the early 1970s, the then-new Consumer Product Safety Commission contracted with Consumers Union to write a safety standard for power lawn mowers. CU, never an organization to do things by halves, spent a couple of years writing a gilt-edged standard that would have required mowers to have a deadman switch and a blade brake-clutch; that way, whenever the user let go of the deadman, the motor would quickly idle, the blade would stop within a second or two, but the user wouldn't have to yank the starter cord every time he let go of the deadman. The CPSC loved it. Then the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute jumped in. It began lobbying hard to water down the standard, claiming that all the safety gear the CU standard required would add too much to the cost of a mower (sound familiar?). After the CPSC and industry spent several years wrangling over the standard, Congress jumped in. Senator Phil Gramm and representatives from Illinois and Wisconsin (where Briggs & Stratton was a big employer) launched an anti-regulation drive that would make today's Tea Party proud. As I recall, not only did Congress tell the CPSC how to water down the regulation, it also emasculated an already-weak agency, basically preventing it from doing anything meaningful for the next 30 years. The result was a mower safety standard that did little to reduce mower-related injuries and that created mowers that were inherently frustrating to use. It also started the U.S. on a long march of distrust of government itself. Before one key House vote, one of those Congressmen stood outside the House chamber chanting, "Vote against government!"

The analogy isn't exact, of course. It seems that the power tool institute is sensible and non-confrontational, which may make it easier to get a good tablesaw standard into place. But I would not rule out the possibility that some congressional oaf may generate some unneeded kickback, railing about how the activist CPSC is killing jobs by requiring saws to be outfitted with needless and expensive safety gear. I hope that doesn't happen, and that between the CPSC and FWW, some practical yet meaningful safety standard will emerge.
Posted: 9:27 am on October 9th

RETICLEVIEW RETICLEVIEW writes: Also I forgot to mention. I own one of these saws and it is one of the original Ryobis. I had not had the saw very long when one project required ripping some Red Oak. When I was half way through the plank it stalled the motor and being a direct drive it started to smoke. I immediately turned the switch off, but it still continued to smoke as a matter of fact the smoke was increasing, so I unplugged it and pulled it out into my driveway and watched it melt. It never tripped a breaker, nothing just melted. And brother stink with a most acrid smell. I took it back to Home Depot, it stunk the entire place up. I told them at HD I would like to exercise my warrenty, they said sure no problem, but can we take that outside? They gave me a new one in the box and I just don't rip lumber on it, As a matter of fact I don't even use it anymore I now have a Delta. I just thought this piece of information might be helpful to someone else who may have one.
Posted: 9:19 am on October 9th

RETICLEVIEW RETICLEVIEW writes: I think it;s allready been said, and there is nothing I can really say. Except if all our equiptment that most of us have been using for the last 50 mango seasons now has to have special safty devices on them to protect the dull and ignorent, then I believe we should have safety devices on all of our lawyers as well. I also believe that all judges handeling cases like this should be stricken with accute arthritis of the hand at the age of $20,000.00.
Posted: 8:58 am on October 9th

BrianHicksDDS BrianHicksDDS writes: One point everyone seems to be missing. The "ignorant immigrant", as some people have referred to him, was not the one who sued. He was compensated by his company which carried Workman's Comp. The law-suit against Ryobi was brought by the Insurance Company. Mr. Osorio's employer carried insurance for such an injury. They paid out because Mr. Osorio was not properly trained or protected by his employer. OSHA requires very specific training and safety for all work sites. The law suit was, again, a big insurance company passing along it's responsibility - which it had been paid to assume - to Ryobi through this suit. So if you're going to be ticked at someone, leave the "ignorant immigrant" out of it. We all do stupid things and he will have the rest of his maimed life to remember it. This is all about big money protecting it's big money. For one, I appreciate someone looking out for the little guy.
Posted: 7:51 am on October 9th

Jeffreyballen Jeffreyballen writes: I teach woodworking at Northamton Community College in Bethlehem PA.
As with seat belts and airbags on autos, the prediction was that people would be more reckless and careless because of the added perceived protection. Although that was not generally the case, I think it did have a small impact on driver attitudes. Will we see the same complacent attitude change perceiving that it is now impossible to have a serious accident on the Table Saw? I think we might, in some circumstances, where the instruction around all the other dangers of the
mis-use of the table saw is inadequate, see more accidents from kick backs because of carelessness due to Saw Stop.

The Saw Stop technology is great, but there are more pervasive dangers with the table saw and I do not think this one technology should be mandated. In thirty five years in supervisory of teaching capacity in large and small shops and 26 years in my own business, I never had a serious accident related to any power machine.

I vote against the mandatory implementation of the saw stop technology because the student who goes out into the world today is going to work in shops with saws dating back 50 years or more. Proper use of the machine makes it as safe as it can be. Adding saw stop to instructional machines could be more dangerous simply by the inconsistency of it use in industry as well as home-shops.

I prefer to wait for a technology that stops the blade without destroying it - and one that is much less expensive - and perhaps since Saw Stop got us going down this road we will find a retrofit technology that can be mandated by OSHA and will not cost an arm and a leg and an expensive saw blade replacement every time someone accidentally gets their fingers in the path of the blade.

I also foresee (with a Saw Stop Saw) a tremendous opportunity for vandalism or pranks that could cost a school or small shop down time and money should a disgruntled student or employee decide to have the last laugh by slipping a hotdog onto the running blade. It will happen.

Lastly, - I agree with the comment above about kick backs. They are clearly the higher number of accidents. Still, there is no substitute for good instruction and supervision.
Posted: 7:32 am on October 9th

sugarshed sugarshed writes: after reading many posts/opinions on table saw law suit. The most safety feature is your eyes. Keeping your eyes on what you are doing! Take your focus (eyes) what you are doing or can see what's going on and accidents happen. Posts states Carlo "ramming wood through" where's the focus? How sharp was the blade? Sharp enough to cut flesh anyways!
I wonder how many people tested the Saw Stop feature, by trying to touch the blade?
Look at the Jackass video! Those idiots made millions.

Lawyers represent anyone and get paid well!! for your foolishness
Posted: 2:44 am on October 9th

Fabuladico Fabuladico writes: Okay, let's quit tiptoing around here. The fact is that if the plantif in this case had been an average white anglo-saxon male, the case never would would have heard. A non English speaking, unskilled Hispanic is operating a tool that he had no business around in the first place and the courts fall over themselves to help this poor little immigrant. I'm surprised that he didn't sue America for not making Spanish a mandatory language.

No doubt he tried to sue his employer for workman's comp and failed to get anyone interested, then some ambulance chaser got the brilliant idea of suing Ryobi for not buying someone's invention. It's stuff like this that makes me ashamed for America.
Posted: 2:39 am on October 9th

Chilemac Chilemac writes: I am out ragged about how far our country has taken the law suits. Any time I ues a power tool I know the risk of what that tool could do to me. I have live in China for the past two years and have seen a country that has very little saftey in constuction and use of power tools. I will say that I do belive that in saftey, but saftey is my responablity and not the conpany that made the product.
Posted: 12:03 am on October 9th

oxymoron318 oxymoron318 writes: This is the tip of the iceberg. Next will be a cheap car that gets wrecked could have had the expensive cars safty equipment but did not. The house burnt down but could have had sprinkler system in place. This can be called the "should have law" or the "hind sight law". Either way if my dime store lawyer ever loses a case, I'm sueing because the expensive Harvard guy could have won it.
Posted: 11:48 pm on October 8th

BobMc BobMc writes: FWW is scarcely unbiased and, in my opinion, barely a proponent of safety. When I see a photo or diagram with safety equipment "removed for clarity," I wonder if FWW thinks that I don't know where the saw blade is located, and need a clear view of why the board has no kerf when it goes under the guard, but has a kerf when it comes out from under the guard? I wonder why, when showing a dado cut, the board isn't removed for clarity so I can clearly see the blade? I look at the picture on page 75 of the Nov/Dec 2011 issue (No. 222) and wonder what the plan is when something binds, breaks, or twists. I wonder why the miter gauge fence doesn't extend to both sides of the cut line to give better support, and a bit more clearance for the holding device called a hand. The first illustration accompanying this article is imflammatory; the second shows a hand depending on a riving knife to detect internal stresses in the wood and keep the board's face from blowing out while the worker's hand travels past the blade.

FWW->"If riving knives will tend to stay on saws much more than those old crappy splitters did, doesn't it follow that blade covers will too? My opinion is that they will, and that that will reduce hand-to-blade contact." Is this really a statement of logic? Does this mean that blade guards don't block the view, and now that FWW is illustrating cuts on saws with riving knives that the illustration will also show the guard in place? The gripes about license technology is also BS. SawStop has followed a common model, and is a success story. Other manufacturers resisted adding even a riving knife for years, and have done close to zero safety design improvements until SS came along. Common economic theory would predict economies of scale, and dropping prices on any manufacturing application.

Americans like to say the US has the greatest legal system, but then don't think it works whenever there's a decision they don't like. The coffee example is so trite--the woman bought coffee to drink and received 3rd degree burns requiring skin grafts. McDonalds had had hundreds of previous complaints. People buy coffee to drink. Perhaps she wouldn't have spilled the coffee had it been at a consumable temperature, and she could have consumed it, instead of waiting for a 60 to 80 degree temperature drop to get below flesh-burning temperature.

I guess the only unfair thing I see in the entire affair is that apparently Ryobi wasn't allowed to have their own lawyers and experts in court to explain why they had no culpability? Or did they treat it as another slam-dunk dismissal and send a product demonstrator? The jury heard the arguments, and apparently felt that Ryobi could have made a safer product. Ryobi could have called FWW as a witness, or any of the personal-responsibility mavens to explain why it's bad to have safety features that avoid cutting flesh if they cut profits. But Ryobi did not.

A study showing that seatbelts don't cut accidents? I thought seatbelts were supposed to reduce injuries, which they do, as do airbags which no one will be willing to pay for, but they do.

Suppose I manufacture a high stool, and after selling my first hundred, find that 10% break and injure the would-be seatee. Can I claim they should have known better than to put their butts in line with the legs, and continue with the same design?

I wonder how many woodworkers who tout personal responsibility, the mantra of manufacturers, prior to cutting lumber commonly scan for metal, cut a fork to test for reaction wood, and run other tests to ensure the board is of homogenous composition and will behave as expected for the length of the cut? There are many variables in woodworking that can lead to disasters, and not all are amenable to personal-reponsibility cures. If a manufacturer can make a machine safer to help the user avoid injury when using the expected materials, then it should do so.

The Whirlwind blade brake is a good idea, shutting the blade down while the hand is a ways away, but when FWW removes the guard for clarity, will the detection system still work? Even with the riving knife in place?

The nanny state so often mentioned is a nanny to manufacturers, banks, insurance companies, military contractors, and Wall Street firms, and maintains the status quo of profits. When the common worker or soldier gets a bit of help, or time off, or any benefits, it's touted as being a bad thing, a slippery slope.
Posted: 9:08 pm on October 8th

Measure2xCut1x Measure2xCut1x writes: There has been very little discussion on the role of the employer in training the employee to use safe practices while operating potentially dangerous equipment. From the description of Carlos Osorio's accident, it seems that he didn't have a clue how to operate a saw. It is the employer's responsibility to ensure that workers are well trained and adhere to good safety practices. I'm surprised that OSHA didn't get involved in this case. -- But then of course, the manufacturer has deeper pockets than an individual contractor-employer.
Posted: 8:55 pm on October 8th

mitch912 mitch912 writes: I work for a fortune 500 company and frequently deal with product liability issues from the technical aspect, in support of our legal folks. I can say without reservation that American companies are constantly targeted with suits based on irresponsibility and plain fraud.

Over the past 10 years I cannot recall a single suit where there was true liability. Where true liability exists, our company deals with the problem quickly and fairly. Most are simply people looking for someone to blame for their own misfortunes, whether they resulted from their own negligence or just bad luck. We have created a mentality where every misfortune must be somebody's fault, and that the unfortunate is somehow entitled to compensation.

There were a number of cases where the lawyers failed to do even minimal due diligence and were stuck with nut cases for clients. Years ago we stopped one line of suits by going after the lawyers $ - when the judge threw the case out, we filed for sanctions against the law firm and our company was awarded a rather large amount - because the lawyer should have known his clients were scam artists, with a lengthy trail of 14 liability suits through 4 states If other companies would take this approach, a lot of these frivolous cases would stop.

I am currently involved in 2 cases where people were simply unfortunate, through absolutely no one's fault - bad things sometimes happen to good people, but the lawyers have promised them they can make them rich. In neither case is there is any known, or even any suspected medical link between their condition, but the lawyers have dangled the $ in front of them. These we will fight with everything we have.

Where true liability exists, the company should pay, but we must somehow retrain our society to take responsibility for our own actions.

Posted: 8:13 pm on October 8th

lacfireman lacfireman writes: By inference, the consumer product safety commission must now mandate this safety device on all machinery, because it is addaptable to anything. Routers, drill press, jointers, planers, band saws. And this is only woodworking machinery. I can surely see the benefit. But where does this intrusion end. It is one thing for an insurer to recomend that a school of begining students use saw stop. But quite another for a goverment agency to mandate this on all hazzardous machinery manufactured and used in the U.S.
Posted: 7:55 pm on October 8th

TR4939 TR4939 writes: These businesses are “GOD” arguments grow weary. I don’t want “Government” telling me what to buy or telling a company what to do regardless of the consequences to people.

But hey it’s ok if a company makes that decision for me; they can “tell me” what to buy. They don’t infringe on my liberty. After all they are a business and that makes them GOD. It’s ok if they decide what’s safe for me, it’s ok if they tell another company what is safe for me and what should be included in their product.

I find it very interesting that no one takes the insurance company to task for the lawsuit against the table saw manufacture over producing an unsafe product. It’s their lawsuit that will force the safety changes. Government regulators are late to this party.

“And in 2010, surprising many in the industry, including me, his insurers won $1.5 million in damages. It's all about subrogation, a legal doctrine used to describe situations like these, where an insurance company is the actual plaintiff, not an individual.”

It was the insurance company that argued the manufactures could have, should have done better -- that inexpensive safety measures were available to the industry which they apparently ignored because it would apparently hurt the bottom line. The insurer is arguing, and won, that the company should pay for the accident and by implication change the table saw design.

But if government (charged with the welfare of its citizens) makes the argument and require change for people’s safety well that’s just plan wrong. If a business, an insurance company in this instance, makes the argument that’s ok because they have money on the line. And as a company they have moral authority.

I ask who among you don’t believe the insurance company hasn’t effectively decided what safety features your new table saw will have. Industry most likely would have lobbied and forced government regulators to make minor, watered down requirements (cause government is charged with/must consider their welfare in rule making). The insurance company couldn't care less as the the fate of the industry.
Posted: 7:14 pm on October 8th

wingdam wingdam writes: After showing my wrecked thumb tip from kickback and saying this was the first such mistake in 20 years, a friend said most woodworkers he knew quit after 19 years to avoid such accidents. :-D
Posted: 6:35 pm on October 8th

wingdam wingdam writes: Anything with a steel-sharp edge is dangerous; use at your own risk. End of Surgeon General's Warning.
Posted: 6:27 pm on October 8th

MrWhy MrWhy writes: Let's see,
Backing sensors for cars exists. Let's sue every car manufacturer that makes cars without them. We could accidentally back into something or someone.

Chainmail gloves exists. Sue every knife or chisel manufacturer who doesn't provide those with their product.

Sprinklers exists. We should have them on our kitchen ovens, combined with flesh sensing technology to prevent burns. This is actually one of the most common home accidents.

Let's step it up a notch:
Tunnels and walkways is invented. If anybody is hit by a car on a zebra crossing, sue the city for neglecting to build a walkway or a tunnel. Never mind that the driver neglected traffic rules. The accident could have been avoided had the city built a tunnel for pedestrians.

Hey, I could make a living from this. Suing manufacturers and cities for letting me hurt myself by being stupid.

Sadly, I live in Norway where we have to take responsibility for our own actions. We are allowed to buy a sawstop saw, but we don't have to. And by not doing so, we accept the risk, and act accordingly. If we don't, we probably hurt ourself, but we have the choice, and we are properly warned by the manual.

If someone should get sued for this man losing his fingers, it's probably the employer, for not providing safety equipment, or for not giving proper training.
Posted: 6:19 pm on October 8th

PatriotWorks PatriotWorks writes: """impala910 writes: I am surprised at the revolt, by the readers, when it comes to safety on a very dangerous tool."""

Let the consumer decide what features and functions should be on a machine then let the market respond.

There is nothing wrong with the SawStop until the government forces you to buy it. Same with healthcare!

The government requires licenses to drive but we still have accidents. What gives?

The new safety features on most circular skil saws make me go insane.
I defy anybody to describe how pushing two buttons makes a saw safer.

These saws should be used for shims.
Posted: 5:03 pm on October 8th

Ras Ras writes: I have been an avid hobbyist woodworker for many years and have used just about every table saw out there and can still count to ten, without my toes. About 10 years ago I purchased a new table saw from one of the largest retail stores in the world and while it was OK it did not serve the purpose I wanted. I ultimately sold the saw. I then found an old Delta Unisaw and set on restoring it, it came out better than new but it also fell short in the safety area. I now own and use everyday an older Oliver 232, made in 1953, and its a awesome saw. I does everything I could ever want and it even has a riving knife! No, it's not a splitter but an actual riving knife. If manufacturers had it figured out in the 50's why aren't they available today?
Posted: 4:58 pm on October 8th

user-5873283 user-5873283 writes: I owned a 1964 Chevy Corvair, the car Ralph Nader said was unsafe at any speed. And I'm here to tell you that Nader was right about the Corvair, which was tail-heavy and likely to do a 180 if the front wheels lost traction. (I did a couple of 180's on slick roads before I figured out that you had to grab the handbrake for a second if the tail started to wag.)

Nader's data was one of the major factors in the creation of federal safety standards for cars. Whatever you may say about Nader or the feds, those standards have saved alot of us from injury or death. The CPSC is after a smaller problem, but it's a problem nonetheless. Requiring a performance standard -- that the saw prevent serious injuries in a defineed situation -- is the least invasive way for a regulator to act. I have a riving knife on my cabinet saw and I use the guard on my worksite saw, but an improvement that added $100 to the cost woudl be OK with me.
Posted: 4:43 pm on October 8th

OtherPeoplesTrash OtherPeoplesTrash writes: Does the Osario verdict mean that anyone injured on a table saw since the invention of flesh sensing technology can and should sue the saw manufacturer and win? I certainly think not. None has ever been forced to purchase or use a table saw. It's like the rock climbing and skydiving I do by choice at my own risk. I had a friend lose a leg skydiving when he was blown into the over hang on the sheet metal roof of the hangar. He could of sued the skydiving company and probably would have won. What he did instead on his first day out of the hospital was to go pay for the jump that took his leg and schedule his next jump. If we all took a little more responsibility for our own actions and accepted the fact that sometimes bad things happen that are no-one's fault the world would be a much better place.
Posted: 3:56 pm on October 8th

OtherPeoplesTrash OtherPeoplesTrash writes: Steroidchemist writes about the cost to the government ie taxpayers in regards to disability payments to those injured on table saws. If the cost is the issue then address the cost not the actions. Don't write disability checks to people whose disabilities were self induced by their own stupid actions and choices. I am a firm believer that we should only create laws to protect people from being directly harmed by others foolish or immoral actions. Steroidchemists logic could be used to justify the government dictating our medical care and diets for that matter. If you eat crap you'll become unhealthy and medicare will have to foot the bill so I guess we should all have our diets mandated by the government so we don't create any undue expenses. Steroid it is a slippery slope you suggest we tumble down.
Posted: 3:40 pm on October 8th

apkitz apkitz writes: I agree with the majority.....Any user of power tools especially table saws, jointers, routers--really needs to understand the tool and appreciate the danger of working with one. The guy who cut his finger is an absolute idiot for "free ripping" a strip.... On the flip, I have done that before myself--but I have 25 years of table saw experience--where my safety stuff and maintain the respect for the tool. Where would this verdict stop... Are we going to have to have this equipment on the router table, shaper, jointer, wide belt sander?!?!??! What about my utility knife? It's got a sharp blade---should that retract when it hits my finger? Our court system is a bunch of idiots--hell my step dad is a lawyer and laughs at cases like this.... If we want to save money--people need to be properly trained in using the tools up front and appreciate the inherent danger of on of the most rewarding hobbies out there. Hell pass a test before you use a saw... I am an ER nurse. I have seen hundreds of power tool injuries.... How about these companies and lawyers talk to people like me. I have never once heard someone say "I was just using the tool exactly how it's supposed to be and it cut me."---Nope... Every injury--being it a router, saw, knife, nail gun injury---the first line out of the patient's mouth "it was stupid, I shouldn't have done that, or I was in a hurry or should have used the push stick..."
Tools don't hurt you when you use them properly. If they do--it's truly and only an accident.--- Andy

Posted: 3:32 pm on October 8th

brm3 brm3 writes: So we're going to solve everyones problems with a safety device. What happens if it fails. I know ...let's sue the manufacturer of the safety device...brilliant!! Does any body see the madness of the system. It's a game of lawyers.
Can't we just use a little common sense or rubber blades. That seemes to be the choice. I value my fingers a lot... but
when i turn on the saw it's by my choice. If i'm that damn stupid to not get training or have some one show me how to use it properly, what should i expect. If someone goes out of their way to remove safety gear and all practical tool accessories how does it make the manufacturer at fault.
My ol Col. used to say" grab both ears and pull til you see day light " enough said.
Posted: 3:28 pm on October 8th

jeffalger jeffalger writes: Were the $55 and $100 extra costs bandied about the raw cost of manufacture, or the incremental retail price? Each $1 in components typically ends up translating into $4-$5 at retail.
Posted: 2:52 pm on October 8th

CaptainSkinnyBeard CaptainSkinnyBeard writes: Some observations:

There are some things that are available to purchase today that if they were invented in 2011 no manufacturer would consider bringing to market out of fear of liability lawsuits. Table saws, gasoline, motorcycles to name a few. These things are inherently dangerous and we accept these dangers because it is assumed that there is no way to make them less dangerous. There is now a way to make a table saw less dangerous.

People who learn how to use inherently dangerous things safely take pride in their knowledge, distain people who do dumb things, assume that all users have access to training and that an accident will never happen to them. Experts with decades of experience still get hurt. Everyone who gets hurt thinks it would never happen to them.

The first time you have a blade bind and throw a board you learn more than you ever read about kickback.

Americans don’t like to be told what to do (or buy). The organized lobby to repeal motorcycle helmet laws will never cease to exist.

Most standard safety features were not voluntarily included in consumer products. The world has been made safer through the passage of laws. Laws are like sausages, it’s better not to see them being made.

Posted: 2:42 pm on October 8th

steroidchemist steroidchemist writes: One subject that has not been raised is the cost of table saw to the US Government. I would venture to say that the same people complaining up and down this board about the anticipated costs associated with newly redesigned safety features would have no problem filing a disability claim with the Social Security Administration if they were to cut off digits using a table saw that did not have a safety brake system on it. The disability insurance paid by employers does not even come close to paying all of the expenditures by this program. The vast majority comes from the SSA general fund.

Another point:
Table saws and shapers are inherently the most dangerous tools we all use. We can avoid many of the problems with shapers by using power feeders, but the table saw really does not have this option. Consequently, I would say that this tool is inherently the most dangerous one in the shop.

So how did every major table saw manufacturers react when Steve Gass came to them, and offered to license his technology? To paraphrase, they said, "We don't care about the safety of our saws or customers. We only care about making money off of them." People here should not be angry at the government, they should be angry at the table saw manufacturers for not caring.

Although I am probably the only one, I applaud the government for caring about us, and saving the taxpayers from the hundreds of millions of dollars in medical bills that unnecessary table saw accidents cost us.

Posted: 2:34 pm on October 8th

michaelmouse michaelmouse writes: If the boss on the job required the worker to own the saw it would have been the workers problem.
Posted: 2:01 pm on October 8th

natethecabinetguy natethecabinetguy writes: The first thing I do is remove all that ridiculous safety crap that always gets in the way. I have the most fool proof and least expensive safety device that has ever been invented: the push stick.

I'm really sick of the Nanny-Police State we now live in.
Posted: 1:35 pm on October 8th

sandmander sandmander writes: I agree with the verdict wholeheartedly.Tablesaws are very dangerous,and should have mandatory safety features,or mandatory training before purchasing.After giving this court case much thought,I think other articles should be added to a "liability list".These articles should include,but be not limited to,knives,bricks,hammers,bubble gum,plates,rope,cars,sticks,matches,water,chairs,roller skates,forks,shovels,cats,fat people,ladders over two foot........THE LIST IS ENDLESS,AND WE DEMAND PROTECTION from these vile,and dangerous articles!
ps-I'm giving up woodworking,and going to law school.I'LL BE RICH IN NO TIME AT ALL!!!!!
Posted: 1:05 pm on October 8th

scottvelie scottvelie writes: The basis of the ruling seems suspect. If I invent a better crash helmet and injuries are reduced if worn while driving your car. Is the car manufacturer liable if you don't wear it. It is just ridiculous.
Posted: 12:36 pm on October 8th

DanPhalen DanPhalen writes: You can't legislate intelligence, but this generation is trying its darnedest to do it. All the safety technology in the world is not going to prevent some idiot (read "IQ less than 60"--they're out there in droves) from removing it because it's in his way and causing an Osorio type accident, thereby running up the statistics governments are so fond of quoting.

I agree we need the improvements, and I'd buy a SawStop if I could afford it, but I wouldn't have a workshop at all today if I'd had to pay the prices mentioned. I'm injury-free, but I'm scairdy-careful every time I run the saw.

A better solution might be, as others have said, to mandate safety training for the buyer prior to delivery, on the proper use of fence, blade guard and miter. That still won't prevent injuries, but it might reduce them.

Posted: 12:13 pm on October 8th

timrowledge timrowledge writes: If a woman can sue for spilling hot coffee on herself and win, what are the chances that any argument is going dissuade this stupidity.

You need to be careful before arguing law based on 'facts' derived from poor news sources. If you actually look up the court records you will find that -

McDonalds had had in excess of 700 complaints of prior injuries caused by the temperature of their coffee; 190 degrees or sufficient to cause serious (3rd degree!) burns in under three seconds.

The old (81) lady spent over a week in hospital, requiring skin grafts and offered to settle for about the cost of the medical work.

McDonalds refused and so it went to court where they (McD) behaved like spoilt children and eventually got zinged for the actual damages requested plus, obviously, costs and then tripled as punitive damages for being persistent idiots.

As with many such cases the final court settlement was much lower ($480,000) and the actual settlement was likely even lower and covered by secrecy agreements.

So, no multi-million award, a stupid corporation, a badly handled issue and utterly mendacious reporting by the press.

Now tell me, do people object to da gubmint telling those poor oppressed electricians to use insulated wires in houses, just to stop stupid people from touching them and getting a teeny-weeny little fatal shock?

Posted: 12:11 pm on October 8th

Fieldstreetstation Fieldstreetstation writes: Hear we ago again, The nanny state in action. When are people going to wake up and get this damn government out of our lives. The EPA, CPSC, FDA, and agencies we may not know of are just sucking the life out of this nation. Rules and regulation be made by individuals who have never had a tool in their hands their entire lives. I am just sick of it.
Posted: 12:04 pm on October 8th

Robert12 Robert12 writes: Looking at the Wirlwind device and using a Sawstop for many years, it seems the PERFECT engineered device would be a combination of both technologies.
From a professional woodworkers view the use of the guard with the Wirlwind device is not practical for every woodworker and situation. But the method used to stop the blade is a GREAT feature on the Wirlwind and does not ruin the blade or brake.
On the Sawstop, the method used to stop the blade is costly and new brake must be purchased and possibly a new blade each time the brake is activated but the saw can be used with no guard for unusual cutting operations.
If a device was developed that used brake sensing technology of the Sawstop and the blade stopping technology of the Wirlwind, no operator injuries would happen and no saw blade brakes or blade would be ruined.
From what I see the best device that would be used by woodworkers would be the combination of both technologies.

Posted: 12:04 pm on October 8th

barewd barewd writes: Regardless of what safety the Saw Stop offers it will not and cannot replace safety training and training on how to use the saw. I took my guard off right after it caused a kick back that gave me a nasty bruise. The saw is too old for a riving knife and yes I've cut myself a couple times. I have an assortment of push sticks at my beck and call and make more when needed. Knowing how to use your equipment is the best safety equipment you can obtain.
Posted: 11:50 am on October 8th

Julimor Julimor writes: I've had one injury accident with a table saw and it was completely my fault. I own a Delta contractor's saw and I've cut miles of wood with it since buying it new in 1993. My injury was from a kickback and I took a chunk of flesh off my thumb, even with leather gloves on. The fence wasn't set right and was pinching the wood as I ripped it. I kept pushing. And the blade guard was removed.

This decision will ultimately be funded by the consumer. Gass will become a very rich man and we will help fund his bank account. Rather than letting the consumer decide what sells, the courts and the government decide and we pay.

Education, common sense and a little patience is all it really takes.

BTW: I think it costs about $100 or so to replace the parts destroyed in every Saw Stop blade retraction. And every owner of the saw had better have at least one spare on hand so you don't have to wait for parts before you can use the saw again. Cha-ching!
Posted: 11:39 am on October 8th

Robert12 Robert12 writes: Looking at the Wirlwind device and using a Sawstop for many years, it seems the PERFECT

Posted: 11:36 am on October 8th

jthorner jthorner writes: Regulators and courts may be ham handing in their approach to things, but one can hardly say that the major woodworking equipment makers have been at the forefront of safety improvements. Riving knives were known to be a superior technology for decades before US equipment marketers finally adopted them under pressure from the courts and regulators.

Much like the US auto industry in the 1950s, most woodworking equipment makers have long taken cost avoidance as their primary concern without looking at the larger picture of the consequences of their actions. "Safety doesn't sell" was, by and large, the cry of the auto makers and has been the mantra of the equipment makers as well. Meanwhile, professional and amateur practitioners have too often taken a "who, me worry?" attitude towards all manner of legitimate safety issues.

Absent legal pressures, very little safety improvements ever happen. They cost money, are sometimes (not always) inconvenient, and only help the fraction of users who avoid getting hurt. But, I'm not ready to go back to the highway death rates of the 1950s or the agricultural equipment death and injury rates of those days. Are you? Isn't it time that the woodworking equipment industry worked at getting ahead of the curve instead of constantly fighting positive change?

Posted: 11:34 am on October 8th

chick01545 chick01545 writes: I'm one of those amatures that uses woodworking as a stress relief from my job as and electrical engineer. I'm also someone who lost two fingers and part of a thumb using a tablesaw. At the time of the accident I had been woodworking for over 10 years.

I was making a raised cabinet door using a tecknique described in an issue of fine woodworking. It required removing the saw blade protector. The blade was tilted to the correct angle and I was holding the blank panel upright against the fense. The first pass cutting the long side went smooth. The second pass on the short side the workpiece slipped near the end of the cut. Instinct overrode knowledge and I dropped my quide hand ever so slightly to save the workpiece.

Fortunately a surgeon was able to reattach the index and middle fingers so I have 60% use of the left hand. I still do woodworking and love evey minute, but no one will ever convince me that saw manufacturers should not be mandated to install SawStop or thier own design on every saw made from this day on.
Posted: 11:31 am on October 8th

BillyU BillyU writes: I have a SawStop and love its form, fit, and function. I have upgraded it recently by installing the newer dust collection guard because I realize, as did Steve Gass, that my lungs are important as well. I know safety begins with me but having technology as a backup is a good thing. I first saw the saw demonstrated at a woodworking show in Atlanta and of the fifty or so people gathered around watching the demo I heard three people say to those gathered around that one of these saws had saved fingers in their shops. Most people do not walk up to a table saw intending to cut themselves and for those who have never been cut by a saw that is great. When my son got interested in woodworking I went over how to safely use all the various saws but was still worried. I still worry but I feel better when he uses the SawStop because it has his back just in case something unforeseen in a board causes problems. We are a litigious society and some (possibly many) lawsuits are crazy. But in a capitalistic society lawsuits are sometimes needed to force companies to put the user’s safety before their bottom line. I applaud an inventor who sees a need and works to solve that need. Capitalism works by rewarding those willing to make the effort by allowing them to sell or license their ideas for a profit.
Posted: 11:26 am on October 8th

DorotheaMargaret DorotheaMargaret writes: It was his own fault for the accident. Do not see why the manufacture should pay a fool! If you remove all the safety features that the manufacture attached, then what do you expect?
Posted: 11:20 am on October 8th

gsm627 gsm627 writes: If a woman can sue for spilling hot coffee on herself and win, what are the chances that any argument is going dissuade this stupidity.

Posted: 11:03 am on October 8th

nowlandguitars nowlandguitars writes: Someone needs to invent a body hugging force field to protect us from all injury.

Our lives will be very bland because it will take nearly every dime we have to buy the force field, but at least we will be safe from any possible injury.

This president will spread to all other power tools and in other areas of our lives until we can no longer afford to do any activity which put us even slightly at risk of injury.

This is very bad!

Joel Nowland


The injured person received perhaps only 1/3 of the award if he was lucky.

The insurance company wins everyone else looses.

Posted: 11:02 am on October 8th

casahanson casahanson writes: I got my first tablesaw (contractor 9" Delta-Rockwell) for X-mas in 1973 when I was only 12 years old. Grandfather was a Master carpenter and was trained in Sweden in furniture making starting in 6th grade - showed me lots. I learned the right way and I currently only crosscut with my tablesaw (10" GEN 350-1) with a home built sled(Gary Rogowski designed). My 18" or 15" Bandsaw rips everything else.I have been a GC all my life and have extensive home woodworking shop, and haven't had an accident yet!


Who's next in sweepstakes? How about Home Depot and Lowes and every other re-seller's liability insurance when selling table saws to Novices without training? They have some liability now.

You can rent all kinds of dangerous equipment but the major rental companies make sure you're trained before they turn you loose. Can't buy an airplane and take out for spin and teach yourself to fly either.

So, I say make the equpment safe for novices (stop the bitch'en) or take them of the market unless and sell only to properly trained license holders.

Posted: 10:53 am on October 8th

hvroberts hvroberts writes: The blame here goes to the operator and the foreman of the jobs. Nobody should be operating any power tools without proper training. I have been using an old craftsman tablesaw from the 40's for over 45 years now. Any guards have long been misplaced before I took ownership of the saw. If I see a moving blade that cuts anything that is pushed into it, I know that it also means a finger or two. Now, I have yet to draw blood from myself. I do not let any person use my power tools without proper training. So it isn't SawStop to blame here, or anyone else for that matter. The blame goes to the operator and those in charge. So, lets give 1.5 million to stupidity.

Posted: 10:46 am on October 8th

oakleafjoe oakleafjoe writes: Cars are very dangerous but I needed to be trained to drive it and pass a test to get to drive. This guy had no training!
If you get it a car with no licence and get hurt do you sue the car company? I think someone somewhere most likely has.
Cars need safety devices and training because they not only hurt the operator but bystanders.
A tablesaw hurts mostly the operator so it should be only my choice.
So If I get nicked by a sawstop I should be glad I didn't loose a finger but if the nick gets infected I can rightfully still sue them?
If this passes I welcome it only when there is more than one type of saw stop tech availible. No monoply.
I like the one guys design that if sucessful, does not ruin a blade.
This sawstop ***** will most likely try to get the goverment to only accept his design.
Posted: 10:43 am on October 8th

gold4us gold4us writes: As is in all things in this world, I am appalled, but not surprised at the decision of the courts. One would think or believe that when a person misuses a tool, car, hot coffee, etc., that the person themselves would be liable for their ignorance, no, stupidity of their actions. I am 56 years old and have been working with all types of power tools since I was around 12. I was taught not only to respect and how to use power tool correctly, but to also read the instructions and abide by the basic steps.
When I bought my first table saw to the time I bought my current table saw, the instructions were basically the same. First rule of using power tools is to use the "safety equipment" as they are in place to prevent what Carlos Osorio did. When Mr. Osorio chose to not use the safety equipment, he immediately put himself in danger and as such, should be the one responsible, not Robyi's parent company.
When Mr. Gass developed his safety device, I am sure he would have liked the entire world of table saw manufacturers to use his invention. In the real world that just does not happen. Time will allow the unique invention to be used by all manufacturers, just as seat belts in the car industry, perhaps by a mandate from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, but until then, careless people should be responsible for their own actions.
Posted: 10:33 am on October 8th

Wood_Chemist Wood_Chemist writes: Looking for some advise on saw safety. I have a 20 year old Delta contractor saw and I use thick and thin kerf blades, sometimes with stabilizers, sometimes not, have separate table saw blade inserts for each setup combination. Now, I tried to make my own riving knife years ago, but realized I needed different knife thicknesses for the different blade thicknesses and some way to offset for when stabilizers were being used. Eventually I tossed the project. I have developed the habit of never standing behind the blade and never using fingers/hands to directly feed the stock.

Does the current technology on saws take into account the options I make use of? If one uses a thick blade with a thin riving knife it would seem the stock can still close up on the blade...the opposite just doesn't work a thin blade kerf would have to be forced over a thicker riving knife...

Just wondering if the new technology really would be useful in these situations or are we going to be locked into limited blade choices and setups.

Ever make a piece of cove molding on a tablesaw? Try that with a riving knife on!!!
Posted: 10:29 am on October 8th

oakleafjoe oakleafjoe writes: The amount of injuries per year is about 40,000 a year. While most of them are blade related how many deaths are there?
I don't believe in the " If it stops one injury or death its worth it" mentality, How many deaths and injuries are there from cell phone use while driving? Yet we suffer greatly from it with no tech to stop it. We could ban cell phones or texting. (Ha Ha)
More to the point how many people get hurt from cell phone abuse and they are not even using it? They are the hit and injured by someone using it by driving?
Last time I checked its mostly the operator of the saw thats injured so its his choice.
Posted: 10:15 am on October 8th

AsaC AsaC writes: Great comments. Thanks a lot. I started these two blogs with a pretty good grasp of the Osorio case and a lot of experience as a woodworker, and from being in frequent contact with manufacturers for many years now, but I am still learning as I go. I've learned a lot more in the past couple of days from reading the Osorio documents (some of them) and the entire CPSC briefing package (ouch) and from my Q&A with Gass, and your comments are adding a lot to the debate, as I had hoped.

I didn't know that appeals don't usually involve new witnesses, so I was wrong to expect that the Osorio award would or could be overturned. So thanks to the lawyer who commented. I didn't realize that Bosch had admitted in the Osorio case that it could put SawStop-type technology in its saws for just $55 more. Thanks to Gass for pointing that out. There is an awful lot going on here, and both sides have legitimate arguments.

There are many moving parts here, to say the least. I do have opinions of my own, but those are changing as I learn more, and I can promise you I am staying unbiased against Gass, PTI, etc. We'll be sure to stay on this story. Gass raised a lot of great points in our Q&A blog, I will be putting those to PTI this coming week, and passing along their answers to you right away.

We are working on more fully reported coverage of this breaking news in the next issue of FWW (#224), and we'll eventually be providing our perspective to the CPSC as well. So please keep weighing in. I'm reading every comment.

Posted: 10:14 am on October 8th

commanderus commanderus writes: All the safety equipment, training and laws cannot guarantee a workers safety, unless HE takes the responsibility to follow rules, and use the safety equipment PROPRELY. I have been in the manufacturing industry, US Navy (Officer of Repair Division and Asst Damage Control and Safety), and worked in construction. If workers fail to THINK and use safety equipment PROPERLY, injury and death can result. I have seen induviduals actually remove safe guards , because THEY think they know better. That was the individual in this case. He should have been held responsible for his own actions. When will start to MAKE people take responsibility for what they do, not manufactures, whose equipment is altered by the consumer. The judges, jury (if any), the industry monitors should be charged with incompetence. The individuals employers should have been held accountable for training workers and ensuring equipment had the proper safety equipment (blade guard, etc) from manufacture installed and working properly. if the individual used the tool improperly, then HE is responsible and accountable for his OWN actions. A workers best safety equipment is 8" above his shoulders - USE IT.
Posted: 10:12 am on October 8th

jangiel jangiel writes: It's not the governments place to force that on me. The SawStop is a nice invention but should remain an OPTION for consumers NOT forced upon up by the government!!! If those who use tablesaws want to purchase it, let them. If they chose not to, it's their right. I'll bet that the statistics of injuries that the SawStop would have prevented are actually really low compared to how many tablesaws are in use in this country.

If a company wants to force it on their employees that's fine but the government has not place forcing it on consumers.
Posted: 10:12 am on October 8th

hvroberts hvroberts writes: As the story starts, it says that the accident victom was untrained on using any tablesaw. I have been using an old saw for over 40 or more years. THIS SAW HAS NO
Posted: 10:07 am on October 8th

oakleafjoe oakleafjoe writes: As I read more of the comments if anyone says its better than a trip to the emergency room, I want the option to have this or not. I use common sense and guards.
You like it then buy it no one stopping you its a free country.
Oh wait.... a FREE country that forces me to buy something, that takes away my choice, that stops me from MY choice.
I would love to see the goverment force Sawstop to replace some of the cost of a damaged blade.
Or a lawsuit from a damaged blade. " I have proof of a damaged blade but where is your proof of a injury on me?
It just malfuctioned.
Posted: 9:57 am on October 8th

redpoints redpoints writes: Why not a bandsaw stop, a jointer stop, a DRILL stop, or for that matter a mallet made out of nerf foam so that some untrained nitwit and his greedy lawyers cannot blame it when it falls on your toe? When does it end?
Posted: 9:54 am on October 8th

resyakk resyakk writes: Body "injuries" are not the biggest hazard of the table saw; lung cancer is. Losing fingers is a serious injury, but losing your lungs is considerably worse. The saw blade can cause serious, but rarely disabling injuries. Wood dust can cause the ultimate disability, death.
Posted: 9:53 am on October 8th

impala910 impala910 writes: I am surprised at the revolt, by the readers, when it comes to safety on a very dangerous tool. I too, put my finger through a blade, and I can assure you, it wasn't because I was being careless. The technology is out there, use it. If it cost more to purchase a saw, so be it. It may turn out that the ones who cannot afford the new technology are perhaps the ones who do not know anything about saw safety anyway. I'm not saying the lawsiut should stand. The worker was injured due to his own stupidity. I've seen professional contractors do the same thig and it makes me shudder. It would appear the government is using the lawsuit to force power tool companies to adapt the new technology at whatever the cost. The industry has been very reluctant to adapt, they say because of cost. I might suggest that there is probably more to it then that" ie: they don't want to pay to use the technology, the patents have been registered in such a way that it's impossible to make changes to it, so that such companies can adapt it and use it for free, as is usually the case. Everything evolves, and so should safety. In the end, it's remains our individual responsability to ensure whenever we use any tool, we understand and respect safety.
Posted: 9:51 am on October 8th

oakleafjoe oakleafjoe writes: I do not want this Saw Stop inventor to rake in millions of dollars by forcing the goverment to make me pay him!
I would laugh at the Saw Stop company when the get sued when someome gets hurt on their forced law.
I use guards and I will not have my almost 200 dollar blade guarded by electronics.
I will rip the damn thing out of the saw. Its my right!
I pay for medical insurance Why pay more?
Next will be ANY power tool with a cutting blade.
40 years of woodworking and I got 3 stiches from a defective saw, yes the table saw I was using was a discontiued ( before recalls ) old model because of a safety issue.
I had a friend about 10 years ago have his airbag in is car deploy without hitting anything.
The insurance company ruled a defective sensor in the front bumper I think.
I will go to using all handtools until the goverment makes them illegal.
Posted: 9:43 am on October 8th

THisWoodShop THisWoodShop writes: It's all fine that we have to improve the safety, but I have to wonder if 1.5 million can by some common sense?
Posted: 9:32 am on October 8th

fdhicks_69 fdhicks_69 writes: @JIm from Columbus "It seems to me that it would be illegal for the government to enact and enforce a law or set of 'rules' that would give a company an unfair advantage in the market place."

It happens all the time. Most legislation is special and targeted to help a specific person, group, company, etc.
Posted: 9:31 am on October 8th

Jim_from_Columbus Jim_from_Columbus writes: I really believe the Sawstop is a great technology with many benefits.I do like the new riving knife technology. I do have a problem with one comment in the story above. Asa writes "His is that increasingly rare, American-manufacturing success story." I really believe in buying American manufacturing whenever possible. To my knowledge none of Mr Gass's saws are made in the US. Am I missing something? I would replace my current saw in a heart beat if it was.
Posted: 9:26 am on October 8th

darbybrown darbybrown writes: If the consumers safety group is going to legislate that all saws must have a system similar to the SawStop system then they must release the patent as written to make the technology available to manufactures. It seems to me that it would be illegal for the government to enact and enforce a law or set of 'rules' that would give a company an unfair advantage in the market place. I agree with previous comments, legislate stupidity along with safety.
Posted: 9:21 am on October 8th

mlhutch mlhutch writes:
Posted: 9:06 am on October 8th

steve127 steve127 writes: As the saying goes " YOU CAN'T FIX STUPID ". i THINK IT SHOULD BE MODIFIED TO ADD "WE HAVE TO GET RID OF STUPID" If you can't use power tools saftly, Then stick to shovels.
Posted: 9:02 am on October 8th

mitch mitch writes: one issue i haven't seen addressed is the possibility of regulating the sale of USED or SECOND-HAND saws. don't laugh. IIRC, the CPSC or EPA(?) has started restricting/banning the resale of certain children's toys for lead & cadmium content- including those offered for resale- requiring chemical testing, etc. how long will it be before OSHA starts banning these "unsafe" saws and other agencies make it illegal to resell them?

"The government that is powerful enough to give you everything you want, is powerful enough to take everything you have."
Posted: 9:00 am on October 8th

graphein graphein writes: A safety device like x on every saw will not benefit us all; it will benefit the manufacturers of safety device x. Someone determined to remove or disable safety device x will do so.

It is no one's job to protect everyone else from their every foolishness.

Spreading questionable benefits around isn't among the enumerated powers granted the federal government by our Constitution.

Fascism creeps, fascist creeps.
Posted: 8:54 am on October 8th

graphein graphein writes: A safety device like x on every saw will not benefit us all; it will benefit the manufacturers of safety device x. Someone determined to remove or disable safety device x will do so.

It is no one's job to protect everyone else from their every foolishness.

Spreading questionable benefits around isn't among the enumerated powers granted the federal government by our Constitution.

Fascism creeps, fascist creeps.
Posted: 8:53 am on October 8th

smik smik writes: No matter how many protections you incorporate, someone is going to find a way to hurt themselve and someone is going to find out how to sue to get money. We need to get away from this sue mentality its only hurting this country.
Posted: 8:48 am on October 8th

quercusrubrum quercusrubrum writes: After reading through the Q&A exchange on the CPSCs proposed recommendations, I have a serious reservation about the annual cost of table saw related injuries as compared to annual table saw sales $ value.
Has anyone considered how many table saws sold in the US in the last 50-70 years are still in use? I suspect a significant number, so comparing annual injury costs to annual sales revenue is deceiving. I taught shop classes fo 30 years. Our table saw was a vintage Unisaw manufactured the year I was born (1948). I did have modern suspended blade guard installed, but the splitter and anti-kickback pawls were removed almost immediately due to the poor design. In ever had a student injures during those 30 years, except for one kid was sliding the fence toward the blade to set up a ripping cut. I had just waxed the fence rails and he held the fence with his thumb below the bottom edge of the fence and pinched pretty good between the fence and the table extension. How many of those saws will be retired solely because of safety mandates on new saws? Not significant number, unless employers insurance carriers force them to upgrade.
Posted: 8:45 am on October 8th

quercusrubrum quercusrubrum writes:
Posted: 8:28 am on October 8th

PatriotWorks PatriotWorks writes: This is just another step in the destruction of America as our ability to produce is stymied as called out in Saul Alinsky Rules for Radicals.

o Spend the People's Money.
o Impose Red Tape, and more Red Tape
o Enforce Red Tape until the cost of doing business forces the destruction of the country as it implodes under its own weight. Out of the pandemonium, eager enemies of free market capitalism create an opportunity of for a Socialist Utopia.

In this scenario, captive wood workers are bound, gagged, shot in the back of the head and buried without for failure to meet quotas.

Let the consumer determine if the SawStop is a viable product, not government minders who are clueless about plumb, level and square.
Posted: 8:21 am on October 8th

drooplug drooplug writes: I have been a professional woodworker for 14 years and have worked in all kinds of shops with all kinds of people. I also own the SawStop in my home shop. There is a high level of arrogance when it comes to safety in a professional setting. I don't find the points that Asa has made to be very supporting of an argument against a requirement for table saws to have the SawStop technology.

While the riving knife is a great advancement over the splitter, it is still little used in the industry. I've had a hard time keeping them on saws as well as the blade guard. I had one coworker even tell me that the riving knife is more dangerous to have on the saw.

Asa makes the point that 40% of table saw injuries are caused by kickbacks and that the riving knife eliminates kickbacks completely. That's great and would be a major reduction in injuries if 100% of saw users used the riving knife. However, that leaves 60% of injuries unaccounted for.

I don't agree with the Osario decision at all. I don't think manufacturer's should be responsible for injuries caused by improper operation. I'm also not a such a big fan of manufacturers being forced to license a competitors technology. At the same time, those manufacturers have been complacent in providing the option for woodworkers to choose to work more safely. It wasn't until the SawStop hit the market that they started to make that effort.

There are upsides to the SawStop technology that a riving knife alone does not provide. First, you can't remove it from the saw. Even thought you can disable it when you turn the saw on, once you turn it off the system is enabled again by default. This makes it a small hassle to disable it. That is what prevents many professional users from returning riving knives and guards to their position on the saw. Secondly, workman's compensation insurance for a wood shop is expensive. I believe that having saws with this technology would lower the cost of insurance to make it more than affordable to pay for the added cost of this technology.
Posted: 8:17 am on October 8th

gary1943 gary1943 writes: Seems pretty easy to me...
Seat belts and air bags for cars, Riving knives and easily removable guards for tablesaws.

(Something like the SawStop technology would be great, but the two measures above, would make a huge improvement in safety.
And why not quit quibbling on how fast or how slow the "wiener" has to travel... it's a fantastic safety innovation.)

Not "Big Brother", just common sense.
Posted: 8:09 am on October 8th

thekinlossian thekinlossian writes: I'm reminded of the story about the man who sued a ladder company because they didn't warn him that putting the ladder on frozen manure wasn't good; the sun came around and melted half of the manure and with one side solid and the other side sloppy, well, you can guess the results. Does this not reflect on a society that is overly bent on using the courts for everything instead of taking responsibility for ones own actions? It will be costly for saw manufacturers and move us further down the road of personal irresponsibility. And the ladder guy? He won his case; are you surprised?
Posted: 7:39 am on October 8th

woodenu2 woodenu2 writes: Just one more way to spend $ that we do not have rather than educate and operate the way the tool was intended.
Posted: 7:31 am on October 8th

Ed_Pirnik Ed_Pirnik writes: I wanted to chime in here, since I worked with Asa to get this post edited and published in a timely manner.
There is absolutely no disagreement here as to the phenomenal nature of the SawStop. It's a great product - that's why we have one in our own shop at FWW. That said, we all felt that certain issues were being glossed over by the CPSC. There is very little understanding as to other potential dangers with tablesaws. Also (I can't speak for Asa on this but these are my two cents) - what bugs me more than anything about the Osorio case is the simple fact that it speaks volumes about modern society. Where did the idea of taking responsibility for one's own actions go? That said, Osorio didn't bring the suit himself, but I do feel as though perhaps the court didn't quite understand the fact that Osorio had taken all the safety devices off of his saw, and was working in a state of complete ignorance - ever do a freehand rip? Sheesh.
Posted: 7:25 am on October 8th

fjegrih37 fjegrih37 writes: Here's a thought. Ryobi makes the cheapest products on the planet and I refuse to buy any of them. Putting in a Saw Stop will not solve the problem. There is no cure for rampant, blatant stupidity and if anyone should be sued it should be the employer who was trying to save a buck by using untrained labor and then there's the question of is this guy legal to be here?
Posted: 7:21 am on October 8th

Eaton474 Eaton474 writes: As for slamming a hot-dog into a SawStop, I've seen it with my own eyes. At most, you may have a few stitches. Not nearly as bad as without it. It didn't even go 1/4 of the way through the dog, less then 1/6 of the way really. And it was really slammed into the blade too. It just stopped and dropped out of the way, and just took a decent nick out of the dog. And I doubt it would cut your finger as much as it did the hot-dog, as the hot-dog is much, much softer than we are since they have no bone and only a thin skin.

You need to remember, the blade doesn't just stop, it drops down and out of the way also, providing much more protection.

You need to watch the slow-motion films a few times to really understand. And watch where they show it from inside the saw itself, really helps show the big picture.
Posted: 7:06 am on October 8th

Jimmpeeh Jimmpeeh writes: Several years ago I cut my fingers really bad on the tablesaw. It was caused by my doing dumb things. First I had no safety equipment installed. Next, I was in a hurry and trying to cut a small piece of scrap holding it with my fingers. No one is liable for my stupidity! This court decision ranks up there in the Stella Awards. Put hot coffee in your crotch, and then, start driving. How on Earth do these geniuses in the legal system come up with such garbage?
Posted: 7:05 am on October 8th

Eaton474 Eaton474 writes: I think it's good that the table-saw manufacturers get woken up a bit, BUT, only to a point.

Does the idiot deserve anything for using a saw in an improper manner? My opinion: No, not so much as a dime or a free band-aid.

Since when is anyone or any manufacturer responsible for someone blatantly misusing a product? And further more, WHY should anyone, except maybe this idiot's boss, be liable for him doing something he knew damn well he was not qualified to do, nor properly trained?

One thing I believe needs to happen, are regulations placed on the small bench-top table-saws, as far as what materials can be used in certain areas of their construction and that they have to meet certain amount of strength to be able to be sold. My biggest area of concern, plastic motor housings and any other associated mechanical elements to do with powering the blade or holding it or the motor in position.
Also, they should all be switched to belt drive and any and all gear-drive systems eliminated.
As well, any and all saws to be sold in the US should need to have certain tests performed on them to determine the durability and strength of motor housings and mounts, as well as any other pertinent blade mounting systems that are implied on any of these saws, and have ratings given and also provided for the customer so they can see how strong the mechanism is holding the blade in place and be able to make an educated decision about buying the saw based on how durable the blade mounting systems are and the likelihood that the blade could misalign due to breakage of the saw, which can cause dangerous kick-back and other issues.

And yes, I have good reason to believe this should be implemented. After having the motor housing of my bench-top saw snap all of it's plastic mounting "ears" off in the middle of a cut through thick oak, which caused misalignment of the blade and also the gear drive, and thus causing the large piece of oak to be thrown at me as if it was shot from a cannon, I truly feel something needs to be done about the structural integrity of these saws and to have mandated testing performed on them to determine if they are safe and also to rate just how strong and safe they are.

And yes, I was injured in my incident, having a large gash laid open on my arm, a massive blood red and then turning black, blue and purple bruise on my stomach (more like mass of broken blood vessels and internal bleeding) and als a large chunk broken from the wall in my shop where the board last hit and finally stopped.

And yes, I was doing everything properly and being as safe as I could possibly be. The saw just broke, and neither myself, nor the manufacturer, can seem to figure out why.

Please be careful guys, and if you can, buy SawStop. They're cheap compared to medical bills and living the rest of your life short of 10 digits.
Posted: 6:57 am on October 8th

JudsonRandall JudsonRandall writes: With all the lawyers talking about the appeals court level, it seems that in this case, the lawyers for One World Technologies
didn't do a very good job of showing that Osorio was foolish, if the facts discussed here are accurately portrayed.
One lawyer correctly comments that you can't add witnesses at the appeals court level.
I believe that Asa, in his Fine Woodworking opinion piece, should have concentrated on promoting safety rather than promoting Gass' invention, even though it might have saved Osorio's finger. The article seemed more focused on selling the Gass device than on getting woodworkers to protect their hands.

Posted: 6:56 am on October 8th

hirsch157 hirsch157 writes: I've been using a table saw since I was 18 years old and I am 48 now. In those 30 years, I have not been injured once by any part of my body coming into contact with the blade. The reason? I am many other of my colleagues in the business. It's when people get careless and disrespectful of the machinery that they become a danger to themselves and others. I dare say, if one looses a finger, it's their own fault and no-one should have to pay for that.

I am quite appaled by this court ruling.
Posted: 6:52 am on October 8th

KenVT KenVT writes: Mercedes has systems on their cars that sense when you are falling asleep. My Subaru doesn't have it. Does that mean I can sue Subaru if I fall asleep and have an accident? Is the government going to mandate that all cars have all of the safety devices that the most expensive cars have? I don't think so. If I don't put my seat belt on and get injured, is it the car manufacture's fault? How are table saws different?
Posted: 6:51 am on October 8th

Fish_Guts Fish_Guts writes: To me, you buy the saw you want, you use it with or without the safety devices that come with it, and as I tell others, and practice myself, that the only thing you must do, is know where your fingers are at all times. If you lose an appendage though stupidity, that's your problem it comes with the territory.
If any saw gets up and chases you out of your shop with the intent to injure then its a matter for you, the manufacturer, and the courts.
Posted: 6:38 am on October 8th

LiteCol LiteCol writes: As a retired trial lawyer (albeit an unusual trial lawyer: A very conservative one), and a novice woodworker, I may bring an actually more balanced position to this table.

As a conservative, I am basically, usually vociferously, opposed to more government regulation of any type. Very little benefit, in my opinion, comes from the volume of law, statutory and court-made, foisted upon Americans each year.

But. I have to admit that some are good. Seat belts, for instance, save untold lives each years. Several other laws/rulings fall into that category. But not MANY.

In my novice woodworker role, I have nearly lost a finger on each of two occasions. I kept one through the skill of the surgeon who repaired my hand, much better, it turned out, than he had thought he did. The other 'save' was just God looking out for me -- I can find no other explanation. And again involving my table saw, I was hit the hardest ever in my 64 years by a 3/4" x 4" x 5" piece of oak that my saw kicked back at me. It burst, not cut, my right abdomen, leaving a melon-sized blood pocket in my abdomen which took some 18 months to absorb. A year after that, and it remains, probably for life, badly discolored and bisected laterally by the tear line where I burst.

So, I have my scars, and I have earned an informed opinion. I believe the discussion centering on the money to be made by the inventor, and the extra cost to be paid by US, is not of the issue. The real issue which should be addressed is: How much cheaper will such a ruling make it for each of us to have a safer, less likely to maim us, saw?

If the SawStop or something similar is ordered added to virtually every table saw, there is no question that the cost to own a saw with this safety feature will go down. Way down. And like the seat belts we pay for in every automobile, such a ruling will save fingers, hands, and more maiming injuries.

Is that wrong? So "I like my saw." Yeah, I do, too, but couldn't you learn to like it better if it were safer? I surely could. I'd take a minor cut every time against a night in an Emergency Room and weeks or months of painful recuperation. Wouldn't you?

Let's not be bull-headed this time. Let's recognize that a requirement for a SawStop type safety device would benefit us all, and at a much lower price than the ones who can afford it are now paying. Let's make it light on ourselves and not fight against ourselves quite so hard.

The invention is a good one, maybe a great one. Why not spread as much of that benefit around as possible?
Posted: 5:03 am on October 8th

StoopBoy StoopBoy writes: As a lawyer, I was surprised when Asa wrote, "Like many others, I was sure that the case would be overturned on appeal, once the defense team had a chance to get its act together and mount better witnesses and experts." Additional witnesses, including experts, typically are not allowed on appeal; in fact, it would be nearly unheard of for an appellate court to allow the record on appeal to be supplemented with the testimony of witnesses who did not testify before the trial court. Consequently, if Asa and "many others" were "sure that the case would be overturned on appeal" for this reason, they were ill-informed. Most cases are affirmed on appeal, not overturned. If I had reported on this lawsuit during my days as a daily newspaper reporter, I likely would have learned these facts by interviewing lawyers on the appeals procedure and the prospect for reversal. Asa's statement makes me wonder whether he and FWW failed to observe basic journalism practices in much the same way Osorio apparently failed to observe basic table saw safety practices.
Posted: 4:14 am on October 8th

Rewerb Rewerb writes: Here in the UK access to basic training in the handling of machines for the amateur is an issue. At our woodturning club demonstrators include basic safety advice as they go along. Really an element of training for machine operating should be a part of the responsibility of manufacturers, employers, clubs, colleges and included in articles. I know a lot is done, but spending millions of dollars/GB pounds on evermore sophisticated safety devises is no real practical solution to a basic personal and corporate responsibility. No sales without safety advice. No operative consent to use machines without safety guidance.
Posted: 4:08 am on October 8th

Rokus Rokus writes: Sofar I have only seen the safety demonstrated by very carefully and slowly touching a saw blade. What happens (and has this been demonstrated) if the fingers or the sausage is slammed into the blade as happened to my thumb when someone passing behind me,stumbled against my back, causing me to fall forward and pushing my thumb into the spinning blade.

Even if the blade stops at 0.0001 of a second and the blade is spinning at 3000 rpm or more it would still take 0.3 revolutions to stop and still suuficient in cutting through the sausage or fingers.

I would like to have Gass demonstrate the effectiveness by slamming has the sausage at speed on a the sawblade

Rob Hartog
Posted: 3:45 am on October 8th

Vorut Vorut writes: INERTIA - Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to a change in its state of motion or rest, or the tendency of an object to resist any change in its motion(Wikipedia) i.e. That which the Saw Stop overcomes or all this carping. Time to get over it. It's here and it works.
Posted: 3:10 am on October 8th

lynford lynford writes: I forgot to mention. At a Woodcraft demonstration of the Saw Stop I ran the weeny into that blade as fast as I could and it nicked the weeny enough to require a band aid on it. OTOH, had it been my finger testing it, I would really go slow.
Posted: 10:38 pm on October 7th

lynford lynford writes: I have a Saw Stop contractor's model. I would like to see a couple changes but nothing to do with safety. The motor is a little light for 1/8" thick blades with hard thick woods and pops the overload button. It takes a while before it can be re-set. I switched to a 3/32 and the riving knife is too thick to follow a 3/32 blade so I went back to the 1/8" blade and just don't push so hard.

If I were a production shop I would ,of course, go with the 5 or 7.5 HP cabinet model. I did fire the blade stop one time with a piece of kinda wet partical board; $90 lesson learned though the owner's manual warns that it might happen.

At 78 years old after over 60 years of table sawing, I call the Saw Stop's extra thousand dollars insurance. I believe all that bad mouthing Gass and Saw Stop is typical of corporate America. As I recall, he offered the technology to any and all at a reasonable price before he built the Saw Stop machine. It seems all the others thought they could get away without it and buy their way through the justice system if necessary. Didn't work, quit whining and design something better or leave town. BTW: 1/8 second won't hack it.
Posted: 10:29 pm on October 7th

CHUCKYD CHUCKYD writes: I think one other poster made the most relevant comment. That is, the only tests we have seen show the weenie moving very, very slowly toward the blade. We STILL don't know what would happen if someone's body part were jerked into the blade, or if a person fell with the hand right over the blade. Therefore, no one can say that the dummy's hand could have been saved if the saw had the saw stop.

There is another important point, and that is that the sawtop can be removed. IF the inherently unsafe are going to remove all other safety features of a device, what's to keep them from removing the sawstop?

Nevertheless, as others have intimated, you can't design out stupidity.
Posted: 10:16 pm on October 7th

woodpecker1 woodpecker1 writes: My credentials: 40 years as a woodworker; 45 years as a product liability defense lawyer representing the automotive, machine tool (not woodworking) and consumer home products industries. I have commented previously about the Osorio case and lay a lot of fault off on the the woodworking power tool/machinery industry for a mediocre defense that did not thoroughly offer the proof necessary to counter plaintiff's cost benefit analysis.

Asa, the cat is out of the bag and the toothpaste is out of the tube. Gass's Saw Stop technology works despite its cost and who knows what other damage it does to your $2,000+ cabinet saw or your $500- job site aluminum housed contractor's saw.

Moreover, from experience I can tell you the UL blessing on less expensive safety features for table saws will carry no weight with CPSC. Just ask yourself whether a federal agency, charged by Congress with the responsibility for advancing consumer safety is going to overlook Saw Stop when the cost of Osorio's injuries are weighted against the price of your most expensive cabinet saw with all of its bell's and whistles.

From what I have read, the industry is already responding to the Osorio verdict and the CPSC challenge. This is what it should be doing. All manufacturers of woodworking machinery ought to be looking at ways to instantly de-energize cutting heads or blades whenever the operator gets to close to the danger zone. I worked for years with automotive engineers who pleaded with CPSC types for more time to perfect air bag technology. These folks were sincere. They did not have a good handle on the technology when initially introduced and were blowing pig cadavers all over the laboratory along with millions in research and development. (Remember the infant decapitations from air bags?) But, while I have little regard for the CPSC's tactics and stubbornness, the agency kept pushing and the auto industry, in expedited moves of self-preservation, finally came up with the improvements which make this life saving technology technology a part of everyone's daily experience.

Hopefully, someday, devastating hand and finger injuries will be ancient history. Until then, if the industry wants to improve its position in defending Osorio cases, and there will be more, the industry needs to swallow hard and pour lots of money into finding a less costly technology that works and can be retrofitted to older units. Get ready for the next case. When you reach the punitive damage phase of the next case, the CEO doesn't want to be asked: "What have you done to improve the safety of your contractor's saw since the Osorio verdict?" The CEO will have to have a better answer than "We enlisted UL and FWW to emphasize the fact Osorio was an untrained Doe Doe Head." That won't fly. Product liability law and juries expect profit driven enterprises to consider the safety of all Doe Doe Heads when using your product.

All of my machinery was bought in the mid-90s. Even with the Unisaw blade guard in place, this equipment is unsafe and defective according to the results of the Osario appeal. Consequently, while I formerly let knowledgeable folks use my equipment: not any more. If someone is going to be hurt on my equipment it will be me. Not someone who can sue me.

Finally, I will reiterate an offering I made several years ago to FWW. Manufacturers should make CDs available with each of their products which clearly identify hazards of use, especially kick back, and spell out avoidance techniques and the proper use of safety devices. I recently came upon a more visual example. I was helping a partner's scout troop with paring down their piney wood derby blocks. I got everyone's attention and told them my machinery could hurt them. I turned on my cabinet saw and lofted an old throw pillow toward the spinning blade. The eplosion was dramatic and caught everyone's attention. I am still sweeping up stuffing.

Good effort Asa and well done. Here's to a future blessed with new, less costly but equally effective technologies which solve the problems unleashed by Osorio.
Posted: 8:53 pm on October 7th

michael2160 michael2160 writes: When the Osorio hit the news and complaints against Saw Stop gouging the table saw market with their patent I started to think about other ways to stop the blade: my first method was electro-mechanical braking - something similar to the Whirlwind.

While his current invention stops the blade in 1/8 second, ameridady did the math and the blade moves guite a distance. With that said, I believe you can back feed stored energy into the motor and stop it a lot sooner than the 1/8".

This brings up the reason why it should not be done with the current blade manufacturing process:

Today's saw blade, as opposed to European blades, are not pegged to the arbor and are desgned to relieve stresses in only one rotational direction. Current saws have a reverse thread so pressure against the blade during a cut will tighten the arbor nut.

If the blade were to stop immediately using electro-mechanical braking, it will/may spin off the arbor. Imagine having a six pound set of dado blades spinning off the arbor and racing in your direction.

Saw Stop does not have this disadvantage because Saw Stop stops the blade.

This problem with inertia in the blade itself can be solved readily by requiring the blade to be resisted by pins on the arbor. Existing blades may distort with the rapid deceleration, but blades are relatively cheap.

I do believe electro-mechanical braking is the way to solve the problem for saws purchased in the future and may be the least expensive way to retro-fit current machines.
Posted: 8:27 pm on October 7th

Bob_Lee Bob_Lee writes: I think some are missing the point attacking SawStop.. The cost to replace the mechanism, i.e. the brake and blade is nothing compared to a run through the ER, even if you don't loose a finger. I have a SawStop and I don't care what color it is, the thing does what it says it does. I've watched actual demos done by other than SawStop employees and each was done at rapid feed rates like an accidental fall into the saw and the thing performed as specified. I had an accident with a contractor saw and believe it or not, the trip to the ER cost 3 times the cost of the SawStop. I'm not for mandated Government regulations at all. I am for all the help I can get in the safety area.
Posted: 8:20 pm on October 7th

jef441 jef441 writes: A few years ago I had read the results of a study comparing auto accident injuries before and after adoption of seats belts. The point was that there was very little actual difference. The author went on to postulate that the problem lay in the false sense of security afforded by seat belts. Feeling safe, drivers would take greater risks. The same in the wood shop may be the result.
In my own woodworking experience I still vividly remember my ninth grade wood working course. The instructor began the course by displaying a photo of his bloodied hand from an earlier saw injury. The photo stayed on the wall for all to see every session. Today, 70 years later, I still do not forget the lesson. Use your safety equipment, properly aligned fence, blade at the right height, push stick as appropriate, etc. and, most importantly, always know exactly where your fingers are in relation to the blade. This, of course, applies equally to every motorized tool and sharp edged hand tools as well. No fancy electronic device can ever protect everybody all the time from their own inexperience or stupidity. no more than seat belts and air bags have eliminated highway injuries and deaths. To the contrary, it may encourage greater risk taking and overall higher injuries.
In the case of the flooring company worker, his employer should have been held responsible for lack of safety standards. That would that would send a more memorable and effective lesson.
Posted: 8:08 pm on October 7th

Gimeabrake Gimeabrake writes: the 1/8th second vs how many teeth and rpm is totally moot. The blade could be travelling at light speed rpm and it wouldn' impact your finger any more or less. What is more important is how fast your finger is travelling TOWARDS or INTO the blade.
Which brings me to my point: ALL of the demos and videos show a finger or wiener "sneaking up" on the blade. Creeping along at a snails pace...
Anybody here "sneak" wood up to a blade very often? How fast is your hand travelling when you rip 1/4" plywood into strips? How about a demo on the SawStop at normal working speed? Lets see how deep the finger cut will be then...
Posted: 7:58 pm on October 7th

ameridaddy ameridaddy writes: Oops, pulled the trigger too soon.
I recently bought a new Unisaw, the first new rather than used major power tool I have bought in twelve years of woodworking.
I looked hard at the Sawstop, and I think it is a fine saw, but in the end, the extra 4" blade to front edge distance on the Unisaw and Sawstop's horrible gloss paint and black top tipped the balnce for me.
That would be one big light sucker and dust catcher, a veritable Darth Vader squatting in the middle of my shop.
C'mon Mr. Gass, if you'd offered another color option, I'd have bought your saw that afternoon.
Posted: 7:57 pm on October 7th

ameridaddy ameridaddy writes: Sorry if someone posted this previously-
Another inventor claims a blade stop in 1/8 second.
In that time, my blade turns 9 revolutions, the teeth travel 287 inches, 360 teeth pass by, and my hand may move ~2 to 3 feet during an unexpected slip. I guess that invention will stop the blade just in time to let me pick the hamburger out of the blade before it gets flung all over the wall. That inventor needs to get from 125 milliseconds down to about 3-5.
Meanwhile, I'll continue with my riving knife, overhead guard, feather boards and thinking about every cut. Listen to the little voice, always.

BTW, the fault was the contractor's and Osorio's. If Osorio were using a machete to chop sugar cane and cut off his fingers, using the suit's logic, the machete manufacturer would be liable because they didn't connect a tazer and sensor to stop Osorio's motion when the machete contacted his fingers. However, Osorio's employer didn't have the deep pockets, did he?
What a travesty.
Posted: 7:44 pm on October 7th

cbf123 cbf123 writes: I find it interesting that FWW's coverage is so slanted. It's like you have a personal vendetta against Gass and Sawstop.

On a totally different note, one thing that many people are missing is that home reno contractors (and especially flooring guys) run their saws without safety equipment and without either fence or mitre guide *all the time* because the final board often needs a very shallowly angled rip to line up with the wall.

In my own house I used my bandsaw, which is far safer. There exist dedicated flooring saws now, but I suspect a lot of contractors don't have them yet.

Heck, my dad (who should know better) freehands stuff on the tablesaw regularly.

I wasn't willing to pay twice the price for a Sawstop Industrial compared to my import cabinet saw (the only option at the time). But if ubiquity can bring the price difference down to a few hundred bucks for a cabinet saw, I say it's money well spent.
Posted: 7:00 pm on October 7th

zbop zbop writes: Leave it to the Federal Government to reward stupidity. Regulations and judgements like this are exactly what is wrong with this nation today .... it has regulated every industry to death. Pardon my French but the Federal Government in all branches can kiss my ass. They have destroyed the Constitution and they will eventually destroy this beautiful country it is supposed to protect.

Posted: 4:41 pm on October 7th

jdmaher jdmaher writes: Safety First! To me it's just that simple.

If the standard will be a maximum 1/8" cut - however that's achieved - that SOUNDS good. If the industry CAN do it, they SHOULD. I actually don't want to see a mandated mechanism (i.e., HAS to be SawStop). Soooner or later (maybe even now), there will be a better idea. But I DO want the mandated safety.

If there'e research that shows that riving knives alone can achieve that 1/8" maximum cut, GREAT! Then we're all done! But I haven't heard such proof.

First, agree to solve the problem, by a specified date. Then let the people who know how to build these tools figure out the the most cost effective way to do it. Inevitably, tables saws will cost more. But not more than fingers.

Posted: 9:28 am on October 7th

leftistelf leftistelf writes: Asa,

I'm disappointed in your write-up and your email interview with Gass.

First, you should be celebrating the fact that people who use saws in the future will be protected better than ever from a terrible injury. Whether it be a riving knife or nifty blade stop technology.

Second, instead you point holes in little things instead of looking at the big picture. You're making the same argument automotive manufacturers made against seat belts, airbags, and antilock breaks. Namely, cost, cost, cost. Okay, it costs more...we get it. I'm sure you're a great driver, but would you drive a car without these safety features? Would you let you kids? This is about safety.

For each of those inventions, there was an inventor. Allen Breed invented the sensors that made airbags possible. Nils Bohlin invented the seatbelt. Gabriel Voisin invented antilock brakes. Each has been handsomely rewarded for their invention. Just like any inventor (look at the long list of woodworking inventors - drills, saws, vises, clamps, etc).

I'm no fan of patent trolls, but at least Gass went out and manufactured a product with his intellectual property. And, as you know based on your data, he's killing his competitors marketshare - without a regulation in place. And, when he creates the sliding table saw, he'll kill the low range slider, like Hammer, Laguna, etc. What do you want him to do? Donate the patent to the public domain? Few companies ever do that. And he's had this success with higher prices. Just like Apple. (High value saws, like the high end Felders, will license the tech some day).

Sure, you'll point out the issue with small saws. Yet, you've seen the testimony saying that the technology is there and is relatively inexpensive. Why haven't they installed it? Because the first one to do it loses marketshare because their product is more expensive. Its a game of chicken - and the consumer loses.

You also point out the cost to redesign their products. You're not taking into account product lifespan. Manufacturers will have plenty of time to design new products, just like they already do. Delta redesigned their Unisaw, and did they complain? What about the Bosch 4100? It's been redesigned too. That's what manufacturers do - they redesign their products every X years. They'll work the new tech into new saws without significantly more cost.

The real issue is the commercial terms that Gass will negotiate with the manufacturers. It'll be ugly and you'll personally hear the stories because of the advertising relationships you have. Gass hasn't won the hearts of the woodworking world because of his style. Still, don't lose sight of the benefit consumers will eventually get. Even the experienced ones who say they're too experienced to make a mistake...

Last time I watched car racing, I saw many professional and skilled drivers make a mistake. Why take the risk if you'd don't need to?
Posted: 2:13 am on October 7th

mnik mnik writes: @kevin65: Oh please.
Posted: 2:40 pm on October 5th

JusticeBeaver JusticeBeaver writes: FWW should be lobbying the CPSC directly to get these points heard. countless letters from consumers don't seem to be making any progress.
Posted: 9:38 am on October 5th

ScottSh ScottSh writes: Excellent points Asa. I keep trying to remind people that every safety feature (short of the fuse) was removed from that little saw and that it was being used in the most unsafe manner possible.
Posted: 8:28 am on October 5th

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