detail of table saw blade and human hand in dangerous position
Photographer:Gualtiero Boffi detail of table saw blade and human hand in dangerous position

Ryobi paid $2 million to a hardwood flooring installer who sued the tool manufacturer after injuring his hand using one of the company's table saws. According to the Daily Hornet, the accident happened when a length of hardwood flooring came in contact with the back of the saw blade, causing a kickback that pushed Alex Mai's fingers into the blade, severing his middle finger and causing permanent nerve damage to his index finger. The lawsuit claimed that the injuries were due to a faulty guard design and the company’s failure to manufacture the saw with flesh-sensing technology.

Ryobi was involved in a similar lawsuit several years ago. As JLC reported in 2010, the landmark Osorio v. One World Technologies case pitted the former employee of a Massachusetts flooring contractor against the parent company of Ryobi power tools. Jurors in that case noted that SawStop flesh-sensing technology was available at the time, but not used on the Ryobi saw, and awarded Carlos Osorio $1.5 million in damages.

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, table-saw-related injuries brought 33,400 people to the emergency room in 2015, and half of all workshop amputations can be attributed to table saws. Estimating that the annual societal cost associated with blade-contact injuries is more than $4 billion, the CPSC recently announced a flesh-sensing rule that would require table saws to limit the depth of cut to 3.5 mm when a test probe, acting as a stand-in for a human finger, contacts the spinning blade. You can read the full text of the rule in the Federal Register. The rule is open to public comments until July 26, 2017.

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