National Consumers League

Fact sheet about table saws

Table saw safety: Summary of comments by the National Consumers League 

The National Consumers League (NCL) filed comments to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) on July 26, 2017 in support of a Proposed Rule to address table saw injuries. Below is a summation of NCL’s position:

NCL commends the CPSC’s 3-2 vote to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) setting a safety standard on table saws.

In 2015, an estimated 33,400 individuals required emergency department treatment to address injuries caused by table saws. Of these 30,800 (92 percent) were related to the victim making contact with the saw blade.[3]

More than 4,000 of these injuries require amputations – an average of 11 per day.

The overall economic impact to society of these injuries is approximately $4.06 billion.[4]

Current safety standards described under the voluntary UL 987 Standard for Stationary and Fixed Electric Tools do not adequately mitigate the risk of injury posed by table saws.

The CPSC Staff’s extensive testing of saw safety and active injury mitigation (AIM) technology led to the proposal of a performance standard that would vastly reduce finger amputations and injury altogether. The standard requires table saws to limit the depth of cut to 3.5 millimeters when a test probe, acting as surrogate for a human finger, contacts the blade at an approach rate of one meter per second.

The proposed rule’s aggregate net benefits to society range from $635 million to $2.3 billion annually.

NCL rejects the Power Tool Institute’s (PTI) reaction against the proposed standard, noting that PTI has had over 16 years to address table saw safety by developing its own form of AIM technology or licensing existing technology. Our comments refute their arguments and underscore the importance of issuing the proposed standard.

NCL maintains relationships with woodworkers and small-business owners who have been exposed to table saw blade contact injuries. We include their testimonials in our comments to highlight the real-life impact felt by victims on this important consumer issue. 

In addition to our own comments, NCL led a coalition effort of five consumer advocacy organizations including Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Public Citizen, and US PIRG. All support the CPSC’s Proposed Rule. NCL remains invested in the effort to make table saws smarter and safer for the American consumer.