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California Contemplates Tough Table Saw Safety Legislation

posted Mar 20, 2012, 5:40 AM by Michael Dekker   [ updated Mar 20, 2012, 5:45 AM ]

California Contemplates Table Saw Safety Legislation

Saw Stop finger save - If this bill passes, this is about the worst accident you should see
The state of California is currently mulling over a new bill (bill AB 2218) which would drastically change the safety of any new table saw sold. The bill proposes to restrict the sale of any table saw that does not have "active injury mitigation" technology.

What does that mean? This bill goes way beyond the simple blade guards that everyone already has. This bill would require all new table saws to limit injury to a 1/8" cut if you should get your finger or other body part in the way of the blade. If you haven't seen it before, check out the table saws sold by SawStop

Don't worry though, your venerable work-horse of a table saw won't be relegated to the junk yard. This bill is only concerned about the sale of new table saws, and even if it passes and becomes legislation, it won't come into effect until January 1st 2015. It is currently slated to be heard in committee March 27th, so keep your ears peeled!

At present, this bill is only for California, but there are grumblings that this might become national. Many table saw manufacturers are urging its buyers to take action to stop this legislation, as it will drastically change the table saw industry.

I'm not saying this bill is a bad thing (safety is never bad!) but it certainly will have an impact on us the consumer. Ultimate safety, but at what price? At present, SawStop table saws are plenty expensive (but cheap when compared with a lost digit), but perhaps if the bill passes, other manufacturers will come online with their own answer to the injury problem, and there would be real competition in the ultra-safe table saw industry. So before you give California the finger, just remember that this bill might let you keep it. You may think you are always safe, but just think about your son or daughter, as they start to grow up and use power tools... Wouldn't you rather feel better, knowing they are a bit safer should their attention wander while using the tools?

So perhaps this is a good thing!

If you want to see the actual text of the bill, here it is (from the CA legalinfo site):
BILL NUMBER: AB 2218 INTRODUCED BILL TEXT INTRODUCED BY Assembly Member Williams FEBRUARY 24, 2012 An act to add Chapter 4.9 (commencing with Section 24540) to Division 20 of the Health and Safety Code, relating to consumer safety. LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST AB 2218, as introduced, Williams. Consumer safety: table saws. Existing law prohibits the sale of various types of products that are determined to be unsafe for the public, including, among others, specified bunk beds, infant cribs, and toys. Existing state regulations require certain types of table saws to be guarded by a hood and to contain various safety features to prevent injury. This bill would prohibit a seller, on or after January 1, 2015, from selling a new table saw in this state unless that table saw is equipped with active injury mitigation technology, as defined. The bill would make a seller who violates these provisions subject to a civil fine not exceeding $5,000 per sale. The bill would authorize the Attorney General to maintain an action against any seller who violates these provisions, as specified. Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: no. THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: SECTION 1. Chapter 4.9 (commencing with Section 24540) is added to Division 20 of the Health and Safety Code, to read: CHAPTER 4.9. TABLE SAW SAFETY ACT 24540. This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the Table Saw Safety Act. 24541. For purposes of this chapter, the following definitions apply: (a) "Active injury mitigation technology" means technology to detect contact with, or dangerous proximity between, a hand or finger and the teeth of the blade above the table top of a table saw, and to prevent the blade from cutting the hand or finger deeper than one-eighth of an inch when the hand or finger approaches any portion of the blade above the table top at a speed of one foot per second from any direction and along any path. Notwithstanding the prior sentence, active injury mitigation technology may be temporarily deactivated by a person so that a saw can cut material which would otherwise be detected as a person. (b) "Seller" means any person who deals in or engages in the business of selling table saws or any other person who sells table saws in this state. (c) "Table saw" means a saw that is designed primarily for cutting wood with a generally planar, circular blade having teeth around its periphery and having a nominal diameter of 12 inches or less, where the table saw includes a table top for supporting a work piece, and where at least a portion of the blade extends above the table top to cut a work piece on the table top. Table saws vary in price, size, weight, motors, drive systems, stands, housings, and other features. Common names of various types of table saws include, but are not limited to, bench saws, bench top saws, contractor saws, hybrid saws, and cabinet saws. 24542. (a) On or after January 1, 2015, a seller shall not sell any new table saw in this state unless that table saw is equipped with active injury mitigation technology. (b) Any seller who violates subdivision (a) is subject to a civil fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000) for each sale. (c) The Attorney General may maintain an action against any seller who violates subdivision (a) for injunctive and any other appropriate relief.