Will flesh-sensing technology be required on every table saw? A recent court case against the maker of Ryobi's table saw opens that door a crack wider, although it's still far from certain whether an industry-wide mandate will be the eventual outcome.
On November 23, Techtronic Industries North America, Inc. - maker of Ryobi and Homelite (and part of the tool group that also owns Milwaukee and AEG) - asked a Florida Supreme Court judge to toss out a jury verdict that awarded $27,000 to plaintiff William Anderson. Anderson lost three fingers in an accident involving a Ryobi table saw. Ryobi's sawmaker argued that the jury was incorrect in determining that a table saw not equipped with flesh-sensing technology is a design defect, and that this lack of technology was at least partly responsible for Anderson's accident. The court disagreed with the sawmaker, however, upholding the jury's verdict.
As of right now, SawStop has the only table saw available on the market with this technology. Bosch attempted to bring its Reaxx saw to the market last year, which also utilizes flesh-sensing technology. In July, SawStop sued Bosch, which seemed to put an effective hold on the saw's release. According to Bosch, the Reaxx is expected in 2016.
The Florida Supreme Court's decision sends a clear message: Tool manufacturers who don't incorporate flesh-sensing technology into their table saws are opening themselves up to similar law suits in the future. Where the law goes from there is still open for debate. Tools of the Trade will be following this story as it evolves, and following up with saw manufacturers for their reactions.