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Tech could eliminate need for table saw workers' comp benefits

Did you know that thousands of Americans -- many of them from New Jersey -- suffer serious injuries from table saws every year? Although workers' comp benefits may provide some relief for those victims, a better step would be to simply prevent the incidents from happening altogether. The construction and fabrication industry has the opportunity to provide better safety equipment -- but it appears that they simply are choosing not to implement the changes.

New technology uses sensors and other devices to stop saw blades and other moving parts quickly enough to prevent amputations and other serious injuries. These tech solutions could prevent many construction and machinery accidents, but it appears that the power tool industry is simply not buying into the modifications. Although the technology is not perfect -- some people still suffer injuries that warrant stitches -- the inventors claim to have saved more than 2,000 fingers and hands thanks to their innovative approach.

Not only are construction companies refusing to purchase machines outfitted with the new technology -- power tool groups and other manufacturing lobbies are also trying to prevent the Consumer Product Safety Commission from requiring safety equipment installation on more table saws. Those safety measures could include skin-sensing or motion-sensing technology that would cause a quick shutdown in the event that hands or fingers get too close. Industry representatives say that construction firms would be overly burdened by the installation of the sensors, which average about $100 per machine. They continue to fight against this life- and limb-saving technology that could save an estimated $2.36 billion in medical costs and civil claims from table saws alone.

Irresponsible industry leaders do not have the right to put construction workers at risk because of their own financial motivations. Workers' compensation claims could be avoided entirely if employers would simply install a user-friendly safety mechanism on their table saws. No one should have to work at a construction or fabrication site without these important machine guarding protections.

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