We’re Much Closer to SawStop-Like Table Saw Regulations – Update

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The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) moved closer towards introducing a rule requiring table saw makers to limit the depth of a potentially injurious cut to no more than 3.5mm.

They “determined preliminarily that there may be an unreasonable risk of blade-contact injuries associated with table saws,” and are considering enacting a potential performance standard regarding how severe a cut can be in the event of an unintentional blade contact accident.

Basically, the CPSC has moved closer towards requiring Saw-Stop like active injury mitigation systems on all table saws.

Here are the latest updates:

September 2023: CPSC staff provided a briefing package to the Commission.

October 2023: The Commission voted to publish an SNPR (Supplementary Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) in the Federal Register.

November 2023: CPSC published a proposed rule: Safety Standard Addressing Blade-Contact Injuries on Table Saws.

This document is an interesting read. It includes a background on the proposed rulemaking, as well as responses to 23 distinct comments and concerns expressed by the public and rulemaking opponents.

January 2024: CPSC granted an extension of the comment period.

February 2024: The comment period will close on February 1st, 2024.

The supporting documents include comments and letters from various tool brands, some of which are particularly insightful.

A November 2023 response from Bosch says:

Bosch Power Tools and TTS reached an amicable solution on Aug. 8, 2018, that allows Bosch Power Tools to sell REAXX jobsite table saws in the United States.

From a November 2023 letter from SawStop’s parent company:

SawStop Holding LLC and/or SawStop, LLC have licensed intellectual property to Precision Products Company, Safety Chop, Inc., Griggio S.p.A., TTS Tooltechnic Systems AG & Co. KG, and to Robert Bosch GmbH and Robert Bosch Tool Corporation.

If Bosch and SawStop’s parent company “reached an amicable solution,” more than 5 years ago, and Bosch licensed SawStop IP, why hasn’t Bosch reintroduced the REAXX table saw?

Here’s one more excerpt from SawStop:

To the best of my understanding, all patents owned by SawStop Holding LLC which might have been considered by some to be essential to the proposed standard have expired except for U.S. Patent 9,724,840. SawStop Holding LLC is evaluating whether to commit either to making that patent freely available to competitors for use in the United States or to licensing that patent on FRAND [fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory] terms if the Commission enacts as a rule the safety standard presented in the current SNPR.

From a 2019 comment from SawStop inventor Stephen Gass:

It is worth noting that one of the industry’s most vociferous arguments against implementation of an AIM-based standard – that I, as the inventor, stood to benefit substantially from consumer protective regulations – is now a moot point; I have divested myself of all ownership in SawStop and the patents on which the company was built; the technology is no longer mine to control or benefit from. Yet here I am, still promoting the safety of table saws, because MBG [modular blade guard] -equipped saws have failed to protect users from the unnecessary and unmitigated torrent of injuries on table saws.

I didn’t know that.

Lastly, the CPSC published the minutes from their October 2023 meeting and vote.

Decisional Matter: Federal Register Notice: Safety Standard Addressing Blade-Contact
Injuries on Table Saws, Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNPR)

The Commission voted 3-1 in favor of approving the draft SNPR and to publish it in the Federal Register.

The sole dissenter provided a statement titled “Proposed Standard for Table Saws Would Create Harmful Monopoly, Not Ready for Publication.”

One of the Commissioners in favor of the proposed rule provided a statement titled “Historic Table Saw Rule Could Provide Greatest Net Benefits of Any Rule in CPSC History: $2.32 Billion Every Year.”

Here are some excerpts:

But today, we advanced a rule to save those fingers. To stop those amputations. Technology exists that could prevent table saws from cutting more than 3.5 millimeters into skin. That turns an ER trip to a trip to the medicine cabinet for a band aid. And our rule would require that level of safety. In doing so, the rule would provide the greatest net benefit to society of any rule in the agency’s history that I’m aware of—up to a $2.32 billion net benefit every year.

Why isn’t this safety technology ubiquitous? The answer might be as simple as money. Saw sellers appear to be scared that if they start selling safer saws, they will open themselves up to product liability lawsuits when injuries occur in great numbers on their other saws. So, we’re in danger…to protect their bottom line. I don’t appreciate that.

The longest effective date we are allowed to select by law is six months. To depart from that requires good cause. Here, staff seeks to depart all the way up to three years…and I don’t currently see any good cause to do so.

It’s also my understanding that many table saw manufacturers might currently have the rights to compliant safety features and are choosing not to incorporate them. It’s my understanding that the industry group, the Power Tool Institute undertook a joint venture among its members, including Hitachi, Bosch, Stanley Black and Decker, and Techtronic Industries and appear to have created viable saw safety features which may be usable by all of its members.

I wish this agency had done 20 years ago what we are doing today. A million people would have stayed out of the ER. 65,000 people would still have their fingers. And at least one friend of mine would still have his.

Today, we did good. And in the coming months…let’s decide to do good faster.

Once the comment window closes on February 1st, it might be a while until the next actions are taken.

Everything I read so far suggests that the major obstacles have been reduced to speed bumps, and that the CPSC is headed to a final ruling.

Whether you are for or against the proposed rules, this might be your last opportunity to chime in.


Index for Rule 3041-AC31 (Actions, Dates, Supporting Documents)

CPSC Docket No. 2011-0074 (Regulations.gov)

Commission Meeting Minutes and Vote Statements (October 2023)

Safety Standard Addressing Blade-Contact Injuries on Table Saws – A Proposed Rule by the Consumer Product Safety Commission on 11/01/2023

Notice of Extension of Comment Period (December 2023) – check that page for details on where to submit a formal comment.

Supported Documentation (Letters and Statements)

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