National Consumers League

NCL leads charge for table saw safety at agency hearing

August 10, 2017

Contact: Cindy Hoang, National Consumers League, (202) 207-2832, cindyh@nclnet.org

Washington, DC—National Consumers League (NCL) joined 22-year-old table saw injury victim, Josh Ward, from Sisters, OR, who severed four fingers on a table saw at age 17 in shop class, and other witnesses at a hearing of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) this Wednesday. The Commission is considering a safety standard for all table saws sold in the United States using currently available technology. In 2015, table saws accounted for more than 4,000 amputations – 11 a day – and 33,400 emergency room visits. This new standard will eliminate virtually all table saw injuries.

“Table saws have a demonstrated pattern of injury affecting thousands of victims and costing society billions of dollars every year,” said NCL in comments filed with the CPSC.

“We can end table saw injuries forever using affordable, available technology so why wouldn’t we do that?” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of NCL, who offered testimony before the Commission. “Why should Josh Ward – at the age of 17 – have had to suffer life-altering injuries, lifelong pain and risk of infection, and have his dreams of becoming a firefighter destroyed when we could have completely prevented his injury?”

Greenberg noted that today’s technology, which protects users through a sensor that can distinguish between wood and a finger, prevents the blade from inflicting serious injury. Makers of the SawStop saw, which includes this safety technology, have recorded over 5,000 “finger saves,” cases of people who would have sustained serious injury but did not because they were using a safe saw design. NCL wants all table saw users to have the benefit of this same safety technology.

“Accidents like mine can happen to anyone. You can’t put a value on what it’s like to lose your hand; the Commission needs to finalize its safety standard so nobody else need suffer a life-altering injury as I have done, all because their hand slipped for a fraction of a second while operating a table saw,” said Ward in emotional testimony before the panel.

The hearing took place before the five members of the CPSC on August 9. The Commission is considering this mandatory safety standard for table saws. SawStop’s inventor, Dr. Steven Gass, also testified. Industry witnesses all opposed the CPSC’s proposal, citing cost and other issues.

Read NCL's testimony here.

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.