SACRAMENTO, CA - Home Depot, Lowe's and Sears have joined with portable power tool makers, the California Chamber of Commerce and other state business groups to fight against passage of California's table saw safety rule.
California's controversial AB 2218 - The Table Saw Safety Act was scheduled to be discussed at a hearing of the Judiciary Committee of the state's Senate today. The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara) cruised through the California Assembly in a 64-4 vote in mid-May.
According to information posted on Williams' website, The Table Saw Safety Act (AB 2218) would require that all new table saws manufactured for sale in California after 2015 to be equipped with a safety device that substantially mitigates injury when human skin comes close to or in contact with the blade."
While Williams said his bill does not mandate a specific technology, the Los Angeles Times reported that Stephen Gass, inventor of the SawStop safety system, hired a lobbyist to promote creation of a state table saw safety law. In addition, the paper said Gass has made political contributions totaling $46,500 to 21 Democrats and half a dozen Republicans, including a $2,500 donation to Williams.
Gass holds dozens of patents on the SawStop flesh-sensing technology that is capable of almost instantly stopping a whirring saw blade when it comes n contact with a finger or hand.
The newspaper noted that Gass targeted California for his lobbying efforts knowing that if successful it would likely be "uneconomical (for manufacturers) to make one product for the Golden State customers and a different one for the rest of the country."
"It seemed like a long shot, but it seemed like the right thing to do," Gass told the Times.
Concerned about added costs to table saws, a coalition has been formed to oppose California's proposed Table Saw Act,. According to the Times, the group includes Home Depot, Lowe's, Sears, California Chamber of Commerce, California Manufacturers & Technology Association, California Business Properties Association, and the California Retailers Association.
On a national level, the Power Tool Institute, which is made up of table saw makers such as DeWalt, Ryobi and Skil, has challenged efforts by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to develop a table saw rule that the PTi said would mandate use of the SawStop.
A study by the CPSC indicated that 66,900 people receive emergency room treatment each year for table saw and bench-top related injuries at a cost of $2.3 billion. The annual injury total includes about 3,500 amputations.
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