Reducing the Risk of Injury from Table Saw Use: The Potential Benefits and Costs of Automatic Protection



The use of table saws in the United States is associated with approximately 28,000 emergency department (ED) visits and 2,000 cases of finger amputation per year. This article provides a quantitative estimate of the economic benefits of automatic protection systems that could be designed into new table saw products. Benefits are defined as reduced health-care costs, enhanced production at work, and diminished pain and suffering. The present value of the benefits of automatic protection over the life of the table saw are interpreted as the switch-point cost value, the maximum investment in automatic protection that can be justified by benefit-cost comparison. Using two alternative methods for monetizing pain and suffering, the study finds switch-point cost values of $753 and $561 per saw. These point estimates are sensitive to the values of inputs, especially the average cost of injury. The various switch-point cost values are substantially higher than rough estimates of the incremental cost of automatic protection systems. Uncertainties and future research needs are discussed.