JLF Triangle Blog

Nanny state alert: Power tools in jeopardy

Anyone who works with power tools, especially those who have woodworking shops, knows the dangers of power tools. A split-second’s lack of attention at the table saw can mean disaster. But everybody who works with power tools knows that. Every woodworking show on television tells you, first thing, to wear ear and eye protection and be careful around moving blades.

But that’s not good enough for the Consumer Product Safety Commission. They say we need to do something, in the tried-and-true nanny-state rhetoric, “for the children”:

“The safety of table saws needs to be improved in a way that prevents school children in shop class and woodworkers from suffering these life-altering injuries,” CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum told USA TODAY. “All options are on the table for CPSC at this time.”

It estimates that 10 fingers are lost every day on table saws. I’m not sure I believe that, but even it it’s true, how many are lost in shop class, where the children are? Millions of people use table saws each day, the vast majority of them safely.

There is technology that allows a blade to detect flesh and stop immediately, but it’s very expensive. The CPSC pooh poohs the cost, not surprising for a government bureaucrat. In addition, the developer of the technology is the subject of many lawsuits claiming the technology didn’t protect them. You can’t win.

But here’s the most revealing statement from the CPSC (emphasis added):

CPSC estimates the cost to society of saw-related injuries is about $2 billion a year.

Everything now is a “cost to society”, not to an individual. As I see it, if I lost a finger by using a table saw carelessly, the cost would be mine alone, not society’s. I would be the one having trouble buttoning my shirts for the rest of my life, not society. I would pay the hospital bills using health insurance that I pay out of my pocket, not society’s. And if I was greedy enough to sue the saw company for my own stupidity, that cost would be borne my me, not society.

Claiming a collective cost to society is just a way for government bureaucrats to justify increasing state control.

2 Responses to “Nanny state alert: Power tools in jeopardy”

  • Feb

    I read about this in a woodworking magazine–that because SawStop technology exists, that some judge may mandate that all table saw manufacturers are liable for damages if they don’t use it. Apparently nothing dangerous is allowed in his world.

  • Feb

    What about the cost to society from not having power tools available? That has got to be much, much greater.

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