Please forgive the energy of the headline, but I meant it. Opposition to the CPSC proposed rulemaking on table saws and active injury-avoidance tech is doomed. It will fail. The rulemaking will enter the next stage, and it’s going to set new rules regarding table saw safety equipment.
A little over 2 months ago, I posted about the CPSC’s proposed rulemaking, and mentioned that the comment period was open.
There’s less than 1 week left, until the matter is closed to public input.
In the past 9 weeks or so, there have been a grand total of… 29 comments, the last one being submitted a week ago. And some of those comments are in favor of the rulemaking.
There’s been no mass media attention to this. No outcry by the Power Tool Institute urging bloggers and woodworkers to object to this. Brands aren’t chiming in. There’s simply nothing.
I was thinking about things last night, and it could be that brands want this rulemaking to pass. They can’t develop their own injury-avoidance saws, thanks to SawStop’s patents. Look what happened to Bosch’s Reaxx safety portable table saw – they lost an infringement lawsuit brought by SawStop.
Power tool makers have been losing court cases where it was argued that the injured parties wouldn’t have suffered harm if their portable table saws featured active injury-avoidance technology.
The rulemaking, if it passes, might not going into effect until after SawStops patents start to expire.
In looking at some of the past comments, I came across a couple of comments by SawStop’s Stephen Gass.
One of them reminded me of Gass’s involvement:
I offer the following comments as one of the original petitioners on the above identified-rule making.
And then there are the finger-save documents, which include thousands of user testimonials – thousands of forms filled out by customers whose SawStop safety cartridges fire to stop blades.
On SawStop’s site, if you report a save and contact customer service to obtain an RMA number, they’ll evaluate your cartridge and survey response, and will send you a new cartridge for free if it’s found that it was activated by skin contact.
Reading some of those past responses has been very informational. A lot of the “finger saves” were in commercial settings or schools, but others were by individuals.
In one case, a teacher took a student to the ER after a finger-contact activation, and they came back to find that another student had caused a second activation.
The documents and studies behind CPSC’s proposed rulemaking are very strong. That alone might be enough for the rulemaking to eventually pass.
But the silence, the absence of critical voices forming compelling arguments against the proposed rulemaking – it makes the opposition’s case even weaker.
I know that a lot of end users are in opposition against the proposed safety tech requirements, while others are in support of it.
What about tool brands? Required safety tech will help save some of their users from blade-contact injuries – but not other types of table saw injuries such as kickback-related. If there’s a formal requirement, they’ll have saws ready when SawStops patents start to expire. Maybe some will have “trade up” programs?
Not only will it save some users from harm, imagine the new defenses they’ll have in injury litigation, potentially saving them thousands and even millions of dollars.
Yep. I’m not convinced that power tool brands are at all against this.
Imaginative theories aside, where’s the PTI outcry? PTI, the Power Tool Institute, is “a trade association comprised of the nation’s largest manufacturers of portable and stationary power tools.”
PTI members include Black & Decker, Bosch, Chervon, Dewalt, Dremel, Festool, Hilti, Hitachi, Makita, Metabo, Milwaukee, Rotozip, Ryobi, Skilsaw, Stanley Black & Decker, TTI.
Back in August of 2011, they sent me an email with loads if information. In part of the letter, they added:
We encourage you to report on this important issue and we will keep you updated on developments.
I haven’t heard from anyone at the PTI since 2012.
When looking at the website for a list of brand members, I see a small attempt at urging end users to oppose the CPSC rulemaking. That makes sense, but have any of you ever visited the PTI website?
To be honest, I’m not quite sure what side I’m on here. In the past few years I’ve heard of more experienced users, as well as inexperienced ones, suffering permanent injuries due to table saw blade contact incidents.
I know many of you are opposed to the proposed regulations. Sit down, get your thoughts together, and tell the CPSC how you feel and why.
The Power Tool Institute cobbled together a minimal effort opposition page with a pre-written message you could attach your name to. It says:
I oppose the mandatory rule for table saws. The petition is rooted in an attempt to mandate the use of a single technology, potentially creating a monopoly and undermining the development of new table saw safety technology. Instead of imposing a single technology, CPSC should work with the power tool industry and others in the table saw community to offer a variety of solutions that make sense for the entire range of table saw products and users.
Maybe I’m being pessimistic, or maybe I’m trying to light a fire under anyone opposing the proposed rulemaking and any regulations that could result from it – from end users to brand presidents.
If you’re opposed to the proposed rulemaking, let your voice be heard. Keep in mind that they’re public, so please be professional and polite.
If you’re in support of it, you could and should chime in too. Your opinion matters, even if you assume it’s not a popular stance.
If you don’t take action and voice your stance, you’re standing by idle while decisions are being made for you. If you oppose the rulemaking and it passes, you can at least say you opposed it the best you could.
To those at the Power Tool Institute… if this passes, it’s because you did nothing to oppose it. Where’s the awareness campaign? Where’s the effort? Have you given up and accepted this as an inevitability, or perhaps you want it to pass?