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Business Law Analysis

In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By iaddei
Words 1007
Pages 5
Critical Thinking in Action
Irene Addei
University of Maryland University College

While pushing a large piece of wood through a table saw, John Schmidt seriously injures his hand. He believes the company is at fault for his injury because they did not ensure the machine was safe for use. While John blames the company, Harry Hiller, the foreman, insists that the machine was in fact maintained properly but it was rather because of John’s “joking, laughing and goofing around” that caused him to injure himself. The company shop manager, David Donald, agrees with the foreman believing that the machine was in a safe condition considering if it wasn’t, he would’ve been informed. Another employee of the company claims that the foreman was informed about the issues with the poorly designed safety guard on the table saw, prior to John’s injury. With the two employees adamant that the injury was due to a poorly designed safety guard that didn’t function well, and testimony from the company manager and foreman saying the machine was maintained satisfactorily, who takes responsibility to an unfortunate injury? The table saw is one of the most commonly seen and used tools in the power-tool industry. These tools are dangerous enough to have their own specialized accident litigators. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that “there is an average of about 10 finger amputations a day just from table saws used by consumers” (O’Donnell, 2011). These accidents account for about 67,000 recorded injuries every year and costing an approximate 2.1 billion in medical expenses yearly. The current safety technology on saw blades includes a plastic cover for the blade that is designed to protect users from rotating blade; this plastic cover has proven to be ineffective. Although most injuries occur when consumers come into contact with the blade, these consumers remove the plastic blade cover because most tasks cannot be completed with this safety guard. Consumers believe these plastic blade covers are hard to mount, remove and work with so they leave it off permanently putting themselves at a greater risk for injury. In recent years, newer and improved safety guards have been introduced to the table saw; SawStop being one of them. The SawStop has a “flesh sensing” technology that senses when the blade is coming into contact with skin and prompts a safety mechanism that stops the blade immediately before any injury can be done. After contact is made with one of the blade teeth, the blade comes to a complete stop before contact is made with two or three blade teeth, so instead of an injury that could have caused a complete severance of the finger(s), the consumer is left with a minor cut. As the blade comes to an immediate stop, the force causes the blade to drop beneath the table top, shutting off the motor in the process. In this process, both the blade and brake are destroyed and would need to be replaced, but the cost of replacing them are minor when compared to the possible injury. Whirlwind is another safety guard that could aid in the decrease of injuries caused by table saws. Similar to SawStop, Whirlwind has a “flesh sensing” technology that senses when the blades of the table saw are coming into contact with flesh. The Whirlwind is equipped with a built-in “electronic fence” blade enclosure that stops the machine once the operator approaches or touches the guard fence, immediately shutting down the saw motor and stopping the blade. This happens even before the operator comes in contact with the blade, eliminating any injury to him/her. Unlike SawStop, the blade and break of the table saw are unaffected removing the need to replace them.
One would think that with new & more effective safety guards like SawStop and Whirlwind, there would be a decrease in annual injuries caused by the table saw. While the “flesh sensing” technology has been available since 2000, the cost of safety guards like these, deter employers from making their table saws safer for their employees. The CPSP (Consumer Product Safety Commission) are working on new safety requirements that would require manufactures to integrate safety measures as the ones in both SawStop and Whirlwind. Injuries will continue to occur at the same rate as they have in the past until suitable measures are taken to prevent them from occurring. And until the requirement for manufactures to include these new and improved safety measures are passed, it is up to the employer to ensure that their employees are safe when using the table saw.
While Harry Hiller insists that the machine was maintained satisfactorily and that prior to the accident he saw the employee “joking, laughing, and goofing around,” the safety guard was poorly designed and unable to protect operators in a health and safety report. Aside from the health and safety report reporting the poorly designed safety measure, Harry Hiller was also informed by shop workers about the issues with the safety guard. Regular maintenance on the table saw, guarantees that the table saw is functioning and working properly, but it does not guarantee that the safe guard equipped on the table saw makes it safe as possible for use. With the complaints from the shop workers and the health and safety report supporting these complaints, it was up to Harry Hiller and David Donald to look into additional measures that provided their employees the safest working conditions, including purchasing a SawStop and/or Whirwind.

References

Baylor, C. (2015, October 18). How the SawStop Table Saw Blade Brake Works. Retrieved February 13, 2016, from http://woodworking.about.com/od/recommendations/qt/SawStopBrake.htm
The 5 Most Dangerous Tools, And How To Use Them Safely. (2008). Retrieved February 13, 2016, from http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/tools/reviews/a3710/4286772/
The dangers of table saws. (n.d.). Retrieved February 13, 2016, from http://www.ohiovalleypilawyers.com/table-saw/
Whirlwind Tool Patents Pending Saw Safety Technology. (n.d.). Retrieved February 13, 2016, from http://www.whirlwindtool.com/

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