June 23, 2015
Washington, DC—National Consumers League (NCL) Executive Director Sally Greenberg will testify tomorrow, June 24, before the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), urging the federal agency to act quickly to adopt a safety standard for table saws. NCL is the nation’s pioneering consumer advocacy group, and for several years it has been calling for a standard to require available technology upgrades to the very dangerous products, which cause a preventable 10 amputations each day in the United States.
What: Public Hearing of the Consumer Product Safety Commission
Where: CPSC Hearing Room 420, Bethesda Towers Building, 4330 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814
When: 10 am, Wednesday, July 24, 2015
Hearing is open to the public
“We have before us a consumer product that causes grave injury and a proven safety technology that prevents those injuries. Ten amputations a day could be prevented virtually 100 percent of the time,” Greenberg will testify. “To me that screams out for a requirement that every table saw be required to adopt a safer design.”
Greenberg will be accompanied by Joshua Ward, a college student from Sisters, Oregon, who suffered multiple amputations while working on a table saw in his high school woodshop class in 2012. The accident severed three of his fingers and broke multiple bones. After extensive surgery and treatment, his surgeons were able to save one of his fingers. To date, Josh has undergone seven surgeries and has fought multiple infections. His medical bills exceed $350,000.
Ward traveled from Oregon to ask CPSC to enact a table saw standard that would prevent the type of injuries he has endured. “My lifelong dream of becoming a firefighter vanished when I lost my fingers. CPSC has known about safe table saw technology for over ten years – it is time for the agency to enact a safety standard,” said Ward.
According to CPSC’s statistics, there are approximately 40,000 emergency room-treated table saw injuries every year, about 4,000 of which are amputations. That’s more than 10 amputations every day. In 2003, a petition was filed with the CPSC asking the agency to enact a requirement that every table saw sold in the U.S. be equipped with “active injury mitigation” (AIM) technology that would prevent serious injuries and amputations by stopping the moving saw blade when it comes in contact with, or in close proximity to, human flesh. AIM technology has been proven to virtually eliminate serious injuries resulting from contact with a spinning table saw blade.
In 2010, after the CPSC had not moved forward on a table saw standard in seven years, NCL wrote a letter urging the Commission to take “speedy action” on table saw safety. NCL’s Greenberg also worked with table saw victims from across the country on a public education campaign highlighting the need for a table saw safety regulation. Following NCL’s campaign, in 2011, the Commission voted unanimously to begin the rulemaking process for a table saw safety standard.
Tragically for Ward and thousands of other victims, it has been almost four years, and CPSC has still not proposed a safety standard for table saws. Greenberg teamed up with Ward to make another push for CPSC to take action. This week, Greenberg and Ward will meet individually with CPSC Chairman Elliot Kay and the four CPSC Commissioners. After their testimony, they plan to meet with Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley. Their message is clear: CPSC should act expeditiously to enact a table saw standard.
Greenberg believes that table saws present an easy case for CPSC. “I am disappointed and discouraged at the lack of progress on this very fixable product hazard. While Josh is strong and is overcoming his injuries with tremendous spirit and perseverance, we all know that the lifelong physical and emotional pain and disability he suffers were preventable. We ask [the CPSC] to act as quickly as possible to make table saws safer and put an end to these preventable and heartbreaking tragedies.”
About the National Consumers League
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.