The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission voted 5-0 today to take the first steps toward regulating table saws, which have been blamed for more than 4,000 finger, hand and arm injuries a year.
The agency will examine technologies, such as offered by closely held SawStop LLC, that can stop the blade instantly when human flesh is detected and may eventually issue a rule, Scott Wolfson, an agency spokesman said. The CPSC will seek comments from the industry and the general public before moving to a more specific proposal, he said.
Stephen Gass, founder of Tualatin, Oregon-based SawStop, first petitioned the CPSC more than eight years ago to consider his technology after being turned down by power-tool companies on licensing deals. The Power Tool Institute, which represents manufacturers such as Robert Bosch GmbH, Stanley Black & Decker Inc., Ryobi Ltd., and Techtronic Industries Co., warned that a mandatory standard could create a monopoly for Gass, who they say has locked up more than 70 patents.
“Unfortunately, for consumers, such a mandatory standard could as much as quadruple the cost of current, inexpensive saws and significantly increase the cost of professional saws on the market today,” Susan Young, executive director of the Cleveland-based Power Tool Institute, said in a statement.