TOOL MANUFACTURERS WORRY NEW
SAFETY DEVICES COULD INCREASE LAWSUIT RISK
An Oregon-based tool manufacture has developed technology that will instantaneously stop a saw blade if it comes into contact with flesh. Several other competing technologies have been developed but have not yet been brought to market. Now, the Consumer Products Safety Commission is considering making flesh-sensing technology a requirement for all new table saws.
The safety technology would certainly be a boon to construction workers and do-it-yourselfers across the country. A saw-related construction accident in New York, for instance, can cause a grievous personal injury. However, some in the tool industry worry that a new safety standard could increase companies’ risk of product liability lawsuits.
In products liability cases, a key factor in determining negligence is whether the manufacturer could have designed the product in a way that would have reduced the risk of injury. If a manufacturer chooses to sell a table saw without flesh-detecting technology, it may open itself up to a claim that its product was negligently designed.
Manufacturers also worry that flesh-detecting technology requirements could be expanded to other power tools, driving up costs.
Costs Outweighed by Benefit to Consumers
Ultimately though, manufacturers’ concerns over price and liability pale in comparison to the seriouspersonal injury that table saws cause every day.
It is estimated that approximately 10 table saw-related amputations occur every day. All told, table saws cause nearly 67,300 injuries every year.
The Consumer Products Safety Commission has already issued an “Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,” the first step to making flesh-detecting technology mandatory. If the CPSC continues to move forward, the new rule should be issued sometime in the fall of 2012.