On guard!

Human beings make mistakes.  If we didn’t, there would never be a need for any kind of safety device – from a seat belt in a car, to blade brake on a saw, to a guard on a piece of industrial machinery.  Engineers and product designers know this fundamental truth and are supposed to take it into account when designing things.  If they don’t, that’s on them.

That would ruin your day.

It hasn’t been released yet what happened this month to the woman in Barberton, Ohio who’s hair became snared in a machine that cuts off metal pipe.  Amazingly, she survived, but only after her scalp was ripped from her head.  Was the machine properly guarded?  Did it use electronic eyes (like on your garage door) that detect a person moving or hinge-actuated interlock switches  – either of which can automatically shut off the machine’s moving parts.  That way, if the machine fails, it fails to a safe state, i.e., it fails safe by design.  Or, were there guards on the machine that, at some point, were taken off?

What does this mean to you:

While manufacturers of dangerous products can be responsible for injuries caused by those products, generally your employer is not.  However, if the employer removes a safety guard, that employer may still be responsible for injuries caused on the job.

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Not a leisurely stroll

Longtime readers of FSBD know I’ve covered the issue of dangerous children’s products before on this blog.  I saw this article today that Peg Perego stollers have just been recalled, with at least one death reported.  This, in the wake of other recent stroller recalls by both Graco and Maclaren.

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

What this means to you:

Though we may not want to do it for every DVD player or blender we buy, take 30 seconds and fill out the warranty card so you are apprised of recalls as soon as they happen, especially for products that impact the safety of children.

A better mousetrap

Whenever time allows, I try to get into the workshop for some quality time woodworking.

This is a stand-up desk I built. I now use it in my office at work.

Half the fun or working on projects are the tools you get to use.  But to say that these tools can be dangerous is an understatement, and few tools are more dangerous than the table saw.  Every year, more than 3,500 people lose a finger on a traditional table saw.

This saw does not have SawStop, much less a guard.

But there is a technology that can prevent virtually all finger amputations from table saws.  Its called SawStop.  It works by sensing the electrical  current in a finger and immediately stops the blade from spinning.  However, none of the major manufacturers of table saws have incorporated this technology into their saws.  The companies, through their trade group – The Power Tool Institute, are even fighting making this technology mandatory for all table saws.

What does this mean to you:

Does everyone know that table saws are dangerous?  Sure.  But does everyone know that the manufacturers could make their table saws safer and avoid the horror of amputations, but have chosen not to?  Methinks not. Even when a product does not malfunction, it may still be defective based on the design choices made by the manufacturer.