Important questions about the injury:
I believe the following must be answered by someone at some point, as it is not obvious to me that it has been addressed anywhere, by anyone – did Osorio:
- Truly know HOW to use the table saw?
- If the answer is “No”, why did his employer allow continued use of the table saw? The fact he was ripping a board and NOT using a fence strongly suggests, to me, he did NOT know HOW to use the table saw properly!
- Did the employer have a safety program in place that required his (potential or even his experienced) workers to show competency when using an inherently dangerous tool such a table saw? See # 2, above.
A patent thorn on my side:
I am bothered by the fact that Gass, the inventor of the SawStop technology, has been adamantly pursuing and even aggressively “pushing” the use of his technology. Even more bothersome to me is that he has testified in court that a product was defective because “his” technology was not adopted in the table saw model in question.
I have NO problem whatsoever with someone, an inventor, anyone, wanting to make money on his or her invention(s). But I do have a problem when someone uses the law AND his patents to pursue his business interests. I suspect I have a problem primarily because Gass comes through as a bully. I am sure he is not, but he does come through as a bully. It is strictly an impression; I have never met the man, but would love to, some day.
- What about competing technologies?
- What about Whirlwind, and others that are also looking into flesh detection technologies?
- Why is the CPSC Commissioner using the name of SawStop repeatedly, and seemingly downplaying other, similar developing technologies?
A staggering cost to the country:
The CPSC has repeatedly mentioned, and now has some supposedly “better” figures, about the “true” cost of table saw injuries in this country. At $2.36 billion dollars per year, this is indeed a staggering cost. Must we roll over and accept this figure? Or should reason prevail, and an independent agency be mandated to come up with a “good” figure that reflects the TRUE COST? Why do I suggest this? Because I suspect that the cost has been inflated, in the rush to “look” like CPSC was doing “something”.
The real challenge will be this: Gass has stated, repeatedly, that incorporation of the technology in new saws will cost about $150 per table saw. At the same time, he is adamant that the SawStop technology cannot be retrofitted to existing saws. How accurate is the cost, when the time comes to install the technology, because it is mandated? I suggest that NOW is the time to reflect, to stop, and take note of where we are. Is CPSC ready to mandate that ANY technology installed is ONLY SawStop technology? I suspect so, because that seems to be the ONLY thing that CPSC has totally focused on. And the wording of various documents sounds like SawStop technology will be the ONLY one mandated.
Where is the levelheadedness required in times such as this? WHY rush to suggest that something be done, when nobody REALLY know what else might be available right around the corner?
Why roll over and basically DICTATE that SawStop technology is THE ONLY game to consider?
THIS is the time when better heads must come together. IT IS NOT TOO LATE to reconsider, and allow more time BEFORE drawing up something that we , as a country, will regret in a few years.
A challenge to Gass:
If $150 is the TRUE cost of incorporating SawStop technology in a table saw, by all means, MAKE IT AVAILABLE TO ME AS A RETROFIT OPTION! Don’t mention what seems to me is a very arbitrary cost, only to show up as a VERY REAL $1,000 cost increase to incorporate SawStop technology, as has been suggested by others.
Even more significant: What about OLD SAWS? I am convinced that if the technology is THAT GOOD, it MUST be made available as a retrofit option at some point. No mumbo-jumbo, no legalese. ONLY deliver the goods – because I cannot believe that the a technology cannot be retrofitted. If it does NOT exist, then CREATE a new one that can. If the problem truly is this huge, by all means, CREATE IT!
I live in Missouri. This is the Show Me State. I say to Gass and his people: Show me that it cannot be retrofitted. I am sorry, but I cannot believe that Gass and his people cannot consider building something I can add to my old Unisaw, to allow me to retrofit it with HIS technology.
Gass, I am challenging you. If you can build a retrofit option, I will be first in line to buy it. But I will buy it ONLY if it costs me NO MORE than $150. Plain and simple – you do it, and I will buy into your whole argument. I do NOT want to buy a SawStop just because it might be mandated.
To Gass and his people: Are you prepared to accept that MORE EDUCATION of users of table saws is also required, to minimize the risk of similar injuries continuing to occur? Was Osorio TRULY an expert user of table saws? If I believe the articles that have appeared in the popular press, I seriously doubt he was qualified to use a table saw.
What about competing technologies?
How about this?
In my opinion, if CPSC is TRULY interested in preventing preventable injuries, then I say DO AWAY WITH THE SAWSTOP PATENTS, buy off SawStop, and make the technology available to everyone. Otherwise, Gass will sit on his patents and fight for the right to install HIS invention on every new table saw; unless, that is, either the CPSC or some other government agency dictates that others whose work has been thrown out, due to the SawStop patents, can now, TODAY use their technology. But, most importantly, WE NEED A TECHNOLOGY THAT CAN BE RETROFITTED!
Are we as a country worried about the cost of injuries?
If the CPSC and the U.S. government truly feel this is such an important issue, patents should not be used to stop the implementation of important new technology, ESPECIALLY if a new technology can be retrofitted.
Let us bring new and competing technologies to the forefront, and compete with SawStop, rather than allow Gass and his people to fight it in the courts, at the expense of the consumers whom he holds so dear to his heart. After all, if Gass testified in court, and his testimony was sufficient to prove that his technology was so good that it would have prevented such injury, he should be rewarded for his work – but I say others, too, must be rewarded for their work, rather than be prevented from doing so by the vast patent coverage given to Gass.
Is the ONLY recourse to others to fight it out over the patents awarded to Gass?…At what cost to the competition? THAT would be truly prohibitive!
I insist: If this is TRULY such a big deal, would it be cheaper for the government to subsidize the cost of a retrofit alternative? If the answer is NO, then WHY NOT? Take one year’s worth of the cost of injuries, $2B, and invest it in finding a technology that can be retrofitted. After all, we already have many table saws in the country. And if the cost of injury is so huge, we should retrofit ALL those saws, too.
Maybe the answer lies in our system of “Let the courts decide…”, and let the little guy who cannot afford to fight, lose to the bigger guy with a truckload of patents – even if the patents were awarded without full knowledge of the real implications of awarding them to one individual.
What is needed:
- Take a bit more time, and try to get a better, more real answer to the cost of table saw injuries.
- A rational approach to this entire issue – leave emotion out of it (I get emotional, and irrational over this entire issue), and don’t allow CPSC, Gass, or anyone else, use scare tactics.
- A good and thorough educational program by PTI, and all table saw manufacturers.
- Allow the public to attend public sessions – these sessions will present table saw safety, the Dos and the Don’ts. Is this option really a good option?
- Include educational materials with every table saw sold, in both printed matter, and video material on DVD.
- OR create a central repository of table saw safety material, including printed matter and video material, make it accessible to everyone, and somehow make sure every woodworker using a table saw reads it.
- Hold in-store “tests”. A newcomer must “pass” the test before he can load the machine on his truck, SUV, or VW.
- Just don’t get ridiculous about the requirements, CSPC, and all other government agencies that will likely get involved in addressing this issue.
- Is something like this Prohibition all over again? Will a black market in used table saws develop, as a result of table saws not having SawStop technology on board?
- Or is this the end of sub-$1,000 table saws, and the beginning of only over-$3,000 table saws?
What are YOUR thoughts on this issue?
- Do you work in a place that uses safe practices, including proper training for the employees?
- What does your boss do if he finds you using unsafe practices?
- Have you or your shop installed SawStop table saws to encourage a safer operation?
- Do operators tend to ignore other safe practices because the new saw “…will prevent injury…”?
— Al Navas