Thursday, June 20, 2013

Cutting Off Your Fingers...and Ultrarunning

According to an article in Mother Jones:

Each year, more than 67,000 workers and do-it-yourselfers are injured by table saws, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (PDF), resulting in more than 33,000 emergency room visits and 4,000 amputations. At an average cost of $35,000 each, these accidents lead to more than $2.3 billion in societal costs annually including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

However, there is a fix: a company called SawStop has invented a device that senses minute electrical changes--as when a saw blade touches flesh rather than wood--and can instantly stop the blade before an injury can occur

As a regular table saw user I can see how dangerous these tools can be.  But it seems that the power saw industry is resisting implementation of this safety device.

Read about it yourself  (I will note that I could not discern the additional cost associated with the SawStop technology).  The Mother Jones article offers this observation:

The SawStop story is about an industry's ability to resist a major safety advance that could have prevented countless disfiguring injuries, but might have been bad for business. It also highlights the bureaucratic obstacles that make it virtually impossible for regulators to enact safety measures over the unified objections of industry.

Seems to me that this is pretty reminiscent of the auto industry's early resistance to air bags.  Now air bags are ubiquitous and completely accepted as a proven lifesaver.  Perhaps the same model applies here.

The link to Ultrarunning is that while the loss of a finger would not impact your running much, I can't help but think about, say, lawn mower injuries to your feet.  I always wear steel-toed work boots when I mow, because I value my toes more than the flip-flop wearing grass cutters that I frequently see.


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