Twelve years ago an avid home woodworker invented an ingenious device that stops a table saw blade within 4/1000ths of a second of contact with human flesh. The technology could prevent thousands of amputations every year in the United States and probably 10 times as many serious but less permanent injuries. Steve Gass has offered to license his technology to every major US table saw manufacturer, but all have declined.
Reluctantly, he claims, Gass has become a table saw manufacturer, so his SawStop technology is available in the marketplace. To date, none of his thousands of customers has suffered an amputation or serious injury from blade contact.
Consumer product safety advocates are urging the US government to enact mandatory safety modifications to table saws, arguing in part that the technology is currently available, that it is “breakthrough technology,” and that it is similar to seat belts or air bags in its effectiveness at eliminating serious bodily harm.
Owners of commercial woodworking shops who have embraced the technology are more than willing to pay a premium for saws that reduce injuries for many reasons. Injuries are negative in themselves; they cause downtime; they cause increases in worker compensation insurance premiums; they harm the shop’s reputation; they force shops to rehire and retrain replacement workers.
Self-employed craftsmen are more likely to consider any attempt to regulate saw safety as needless government intervention, and saw manufacturers object that the increased cost to produce safer saws, plus the royalty they’ll have to pay to Steve Gass, will double the cost of cheap hobbyist saws that sell in the $100-200 range.
Meanwhile, a miter saw user recently won a large settlement from sawmaker Bosch by arguing that the manufacturer had failed to employ available safety technology that would have prevented his injury. Whatever the merits of his case, sawmakers now fear this first case will multiply out of control. They hope alternatives like better and more acceptable (less likely to be disabled or discarded by users) safety guards will satisfy the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s warnings that regulation is being considered.
You’ll find links to a wide range of materials in the sidebar to guide your study of this topic, but of course I encourage you to follow links and searches to your own fresh sources as well. Share those you find by publishing new links within your posts, or send them on to me for inclusion in the sidebar.
Task: Safer Saws
Follow links to source material from all the different constituents who make claims about SawStop, its inventor, the technology, its safety, recommended regulations, or its cost, etc.
Find the sources in the right-hand sidebar:
Identify and analyze one claim from each of the eight constituents of this argument. Please remember, claims can be tiny bits of text. An entire paragraph probably contains dozens of claims. If you must quote a paragraph to provide context for the claim you’re analyzing, restrict your evaluation to just one claim within the paragraph.
- Quote the constituent
- Paraphrase or explain what claim is made if necessary, or simply repeat the quote if not.
- Identify what type of claim is being made.
- In a few sentences, evaluate the accuracy, quality, reasonableness, and persuasiveness of the claim, and any support that is offered for the claim.
- You may also choose to refute the claim, again in a few sentences, if you disagree with it.
- Manufacturers (Steve Gass, Bosch, others)
- Industry Spokespeople
- Consumer Safety Advocates
- Injured Plaintiffs
- Personal Injury Lawyers
- Government Officials
- News Reporters
There are probably other constituents I haven’t listed. If you find one or several, you may substitute it or them for one of these 8.
- DUE TUE OCT 26 (11:59pm MON OCT 25) before class.
- Post in two categories: Safer Saws FA21 and your Username.
- Customary late penalties. (0-24 hours 10%) (24-48 hours 20%) (48+ hours, 0 grade)
- Non-Portfolio category (20%)