National Consumers League

NCL statement on 3-2 CPSC vote on mandatory safety standard for table saws

April 28, 2017

 Media contact: NCL Communications, Cindy Hoang, cindyh@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s pioneering consumer and labor advocacy organization, is greatly encouraged by the vote yesterday at the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to move forward on a mandatory safety standard for table saws (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking). 

The following statement may be attributed to Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League:

“This issue has been before the CPSC for over 14 years when the Commission was first petitioned by developers of safety technology asking it to require that all table saws be designed with some form of Active Injury Mitigation technology or AIM[1].  Since that time, NCL has led the effort to get a safety standard enacted. The marketplace has failed to deliver safe designs for all table saws and the current voluntary standard requiring guards over the blades has failed to reduce the rate of injury. [2]

In 2015, there were an estimated 33,400 table saw, emergency department-treated injuries. Table saws inflict 11 amputations each day, according to the CPSC’s accident reporting system. These are agonizingly painful injuries that cause lifelong debilitation and often, many expensive surgeries to treat. Technology in use today, and other technologies that have yet to be introduced into the marketplace, could all but eliminate these devastating injuries. NCL itself has been pressing for action for years. In November 2010, NCL wrote to then-Chairman of the CPSC, Inez Tenenbaum, asking the Commission to address the hazards associated with table saws. Indeed, the CPSC, in a 5-0 vote in October 2011, supported the first regulatory step toward a federal safety standard in support of an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

Yesterday’s 3-2 vote gets us closer to a final rule requiring that all table saws be built with Active Injury Mitigation technology. NCL applauds Commissioners Adler and Kaye for their eloquent statements and longtime efforts to get this measure adopted. We thank the CPSC staff as well for years of work, including the Commission’s engineers, economists, statisticians, and human factors experts. We applaud the finding that the benefits of AIM technology will greatly outweigh the costs.  The benefits estimated in the CPSC package range from $2.3 million to $2.45 billion.

Although three Commissioners voted in support of moving forward toward a final rule, we regret that several amendments were added to require additional, and unnecessary in our view, staff work on the rule.

The very purpose of the Consumer Product Safety Commission is to protect consumers and prevent injury when the market isn’t addressing these problems. We therefore regret that two CPSC Commissioners, faced with overwhelming evidence of these devastating injuries and technology to fix the problem for a reasonable cost, voted against protecting consumers and preventing injuries.”

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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.



[1] in 2003, the developers of table saw safety technology petitioned the Commission asking that all table saws implement injury prevention technology.

[2] CPSC staff concludes that there is no discernible change in the number of blade-contact injuries or types of injuries related to table saw blade contact from the timespan before the voluntary standard was implemented (2004- 2009) to the time span after the implementation of the voluntary standard requiring the riving knife and modular blade guard on all table saws (2010-2015).