Imagine using a table saw. The sharp blade spins at nearly 100 mph. You slowly push a piece of wood across the cutting surface, getting closer and closer to the blade. Then your hand slips and your finger touches the blade. Just think of what that spinning blade can do to a human finger.
Sadly, thousands of Americans do not have to imagine what could happen. According to statistics reviewed by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2017, table saws caused approximately 3,500 finger amputations in the United States.
What if there was a technology that could almost instantly stop a saw blade as soon as it comes into contact with human skin? This type of technology could help save thousands of people from serious injuries every year. Instead of a finger amputation or a serious, deep cut, the person would be left with a small nick or minor cut.
This technology has already existed for nearly 20 years. However, it is not being used by major manufacturers.
Technology Can Stop A Blade When It Contacts Human Skin
A company named SawStop developed a technology that can stop a saw blade within five milliseconds of it contacting human skin. That is 5/1000th of a second. This is quick enough to limit an injury to a minor nick or scratch as opposed to a serious laceration or amputation.
How Does It Work?
The product works by incorporating a weak electrical signal. The electrical signal is carried through the blade.
Human skin can conduct electricity. If the blade contacts human skin, it changes the electrical signal of the blade and the safety is engaged. This stops the saw’s blade within a fraction of a second.
SawStop has demonstrated its technology using the “Hot Dog Test.” This test shows how a hot dog is pushed up against a moving saw blade.
When the hot dog touches the blade, the moving blade stops within milliseconds. The hot dog is barely nicked.
Instead of being cut in half, the damage to the hot dog is extremely minimal. Additionally, the momentum of the saw also pushes the blade down and under the cutting surface, further minimizing a risk of injury.
Most Major Saw Manufacturers Have Failed to Incorporate This Safety Technology
SawStop first developed its safety technology in 1999. Dr. Steve Gass, a founder of SawStop, helped create the tech.
Despite the technology now being in existence for nearly 20 years, it has not been incorporated into most saws produced by major manufacturers in the United States. There have been numerous lawsuits against companies including Black and Decker, Ryobi, and others alleging that the failure of the companies to incorporate this safety technology makes their products defective.
Why haven’t major manufacturers incorporated this technology? In an interview with NPR, Dr. Gass said that one manufacturer told him, “Safety doesn’t sell.”
One argument is cost. The cost of licensing or incorporating the safety technology would increase the overall cost of the product. But the cost of the safety device pales in comparison to the long-term costs of injuries caused by saws. The cost of medical treatment associated with these injuries is approximately $2 billion per year.
The ongoing affect that a loss of a finger or serious hand injury has to victims lasts a lifetime. An extra charge to incorporate a safety feature that would prevent such injuries is common sense.
At least one major manufacturer conducted an internal study as to whether customers would be willing to pay the additional costs to incorporate this safety feature. The result of the study was that customers would be willing to pay for such a safety feature. Despite its own internal study finding that people wanted and would pay for this safety feature, the manufacturer has not incorporated the SawStop technology into its saws as of the writing of this article.
We Handle Defective Product Cases
In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, a person injured by a product can recover from the person or company that designed, manufactured, and sold the product if the product is defective. A product may be considered defective if it does not have safety features that make it safe for its intended use.
If a product has a safer alternative design that is cost-effective, a product may be defective. Also, in determining whether a design is defective, the cost of the safety feature may be balanced against the seriousness of the harm that can occur without the safety product and the likelihood that harm could occur.
Saws cause thousands of serious hand injuries every year. This is a common occurrence. These types of incidents maim and injure people every day and incur billions of dollars each year in medical bills.
Balanced against the harm caused by these saws, the use of a safety feature like the SawStop technology should be required. Saws without it should be considered defective.
At Mattiacci Law, we have successfully fought and won complex defective product cases for our clients. These cases have involved cases ranging from construction equipment, to safety devices, to coffee makers. We have the experience to take on the large manufacturers and prove their products are not safe.
Contact us today for a free consultation if you or a family member has been injured by a saw or a product you feel is defective. We only get paid if we recover money in your case.