Bruce Johnson & Safety

Page 2 of 3  
George,
You must be a trial lawyer, right?
Only a contingency-fee grabbing ambulance chaser could come up with logic like that.
And that's why our insurance premiums are through the roof.
-JR

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

While contingency-fee grabbing ambulance chasers are the reason why insurance premiums are soaring, the concept ("there are no accidents, only negligence") is hardly new, nor restricted to CFGAC lawyers.
It's a standard mantra in the shooting sports that there are no accidental discharges, only negligent discharges. An accident is something that could not be foreseen. A saw cutting something that touches the blade is hardly unforeseeable; it's the intended purpose. Something touching the blade that you didn't intend to cut (like your fingers) might be unintentional, and is definitely undesirable, but it isn't unforeseeable. Failing to safeguard against the undesirable but foreseeable is tantamount to negligence.
Returning to insurance... if it was truly *accident* insurance, then it would be no-fault, and your insurance would pay for your injuries. Instead, blame is assigned to determine whose insurance pays. Thus, insurance pays for negligence, not accidents. ;-)
Good thing I took Business Law 101 mumble-mumble years ago! <G>
Kevin
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
| | Failing to safeguard against the undesirable but foreseeable | is tantamount to negligence.
I can't disagree with this logic, but I disagree with the extent to which it is often carried. We have determined by long experience that it is simply not possible, even far less feasible, to foresee all combinations of circumstances or chains of events that lead to an unfortunate outcome in some case. We become adept at seeing them in hindsight, and reasonably adept at prevent that same arrangement of circumstances from having the same outcome in the future. But if you want to relate foresight and negligence in absolute terms, and thereby condemn as negligent by definition anyone who has an unfortunate experience, that's something I'm not prepared to accept.
Failing to take the precautions available is negligent. But believing that every misfortunate has or had a viable precaution is naive.
--Jay
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You're exactly right, and stated it quite well.
I was presenting the argument; it's not one that I support absolutely.
Kevin
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
| | I was presenting the argument; it's not one that I support absolutely.
Fair enough. It is not my aim to be argumentative for its own sake. My engineering training included elements of failure and reliability analysis, and that's a part of what I do professionally. I have had to diagnose failures in well-built systems operated by people with more-than-expert understanding, and often the failures come down to a completely unforeseen (and highly improbable) combination of events. There are many physical and psychological factors that affect failure prediction and analysis.
Now there's a vast difference between something like a nuclear power plant and a simple table saw. So vague handwaving about the unpredictability of complex systems is only partially applicable to what happens in a woodshop. I own power tools, and it's my goal to die with all my fingers and toes still attached. And so I operate my power tools with as much care as I can muster. And we've heard several people confess that their injuries were caused by their own carelessness or impatience. How many times, setting up a rip on my RAS, have I thought, "Do I *really* need to deploy the kickback guards? What are the chances this particular piece of stock will kick back?" That, of course, is the beginning of many stories told in emergency rooms.
--Jay
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Jay Windley wrote:

May I submit the system was not as well built as you believe and your experts are lacking.
If a designer/ engineer/ expert fails to see a potential situation (the highly improbable?) then the system failure is likely to be completely unforeseen.
What a wicked little circle.
I've also seen clientitus, where a customer rep or consultant looses sight of their function and loyalties. They begin to act as though the contractors their employer, not the customer.

Dominos always fall with the first one. This causes that which causes something else and soon it's an unforeseen circumstance.
Nuclear power plants? Can you say Davis-Bessie? Chernobyl on the north coast. A very complex system with a very simple fault, a simple leak. D-B is reported to have many design faults but those aren't the ones that damned near killed us.
Truth is for everything someone wants to call an accident you only need to find the first domino and the events leading up to it's tipping and virtually every time you'll find it could have been easily prevented.
--
Mark

N.E. Ohio
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Mark wrote:

If you find the first domino was caused to fall by something previously unknown then it is an unpreventable accident.
For example, (IIRC) Madame Curie got cancer in later life from her handling of radioactive materials. No one knew the danger.
Much human knowledge came from people analyzing something that broke and all too often had mangled body parts in it.
-- Mark
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
| | May I submit the system was not as well built as you believe | and your experts are lacking.
You may submit such, if you're willing to endure a very long lecture on the mathematical nature of complex systems. I still maintain that it is not possible to engineer a system that cannot fail. There are only two classes of design: those that have failed, and those that have not yet failed.
Failure of a system is de facto proof of a deficiency of that system's design or operation. That I grant you easily. The fallacy is in assuming that such a failure should have been foreseen and that some degree of negligence or incapacity must necessarily have played a part in the ensuing failure.
Inability of an operator to correctly diagnose and alleviate a failure is de facto proof of a deficiency in that operator's understanding. The question is whether a comprehensive understanding of a complex system is possible, and thus whether operator error is synonymous with culpability. Experts always "lack". The question is whether they culpably "lack".
| If a designer/ engineer/ expert fails to see a potential situation | (the highly improbable?) then the system failure is likely to be | completely unforeseen.
That is substantially my point. The question lies in what is reasonably foreseeable. As systems become very complex, the ability to predict all possible behaviors drops off dramatically, as I shall explain.
| Dominos always fall with the first one. This causes that which | causes something else and soon it's an unforeseen circumstance.
Yes, in simple linear failure modes. Most systems of any interest are not linear.
You also have to consider the notion of coupling, which is analogous to how closely spaced the dominos are. Move the dominos farther apart and they fall more slowly, perhaps allowing you time to jump in and stop the cascade. Move them sufficiently far apart and the fall of one domino does not affect another. Loosely-coupled systems allow time for operators or automatons to diagnose the problem and try a remedy.
A table saw is a tightly-coupled system in that, say, the misfeed of stock may be separated in time from a ball of hamburger at the end of your wrist by only a few milliseconds. This leaves very little time for the operator to notice the problem and apply a remedy.
You also have to consider the notion of non-linearity, which is analogous to "branching" the domino chain and starting two concurrent paths of failure, and of mixed-mode failures and feedback systems that have absolutely no analogue in the world of tumbling dominos but which affect our systems. Pogo in rocket engines is a good example of a feedback system. An simple example of a mixed mode failure would be a slippery floor in front of your table saw: you reach to control the stock, slip, and fall into the blade. Remove either the table saw or the floor contaminant and the accident might have been preventable. But neither is necessarily foreseeable by the agent controlling the other.
Non-linear systems are difficult to diagnose because cause and effect are not always straightforwardly observed.
Take several thousand dominos and place them in a room. Arrange them in criss-crossing patterns with several intersections, branches, and loops. Now turn off the lights -- you don't get to observe at one glance the state of the entire system. All you have is a flashlight and your ears. When you hear the dominos start to fall it's your job to stop them all falling, using only your flashlight and your memory of the domino layout. You have only seconds, or at best, minutes.
Go.
| Truth is for everything someone wants to call an accident you only need | to find the first domino and the events leading up to it's tipping and | virtually every time you'll find it could have been easily prevented.
That's hindsight. We're talking about foresight.
You're also forgetting that most failures are mixed-mode failures: the combination of several conditions to produce a failure. Oil on the floor is itself a manageable risk. A table saw is itself a manageable risk. Oil on the floor in front of your table saw is a *set* of circumstances that *together* spell a significant danger. Remove either of those conditions and the risk is substantially mitigated. But the trick is to recognize that *combination* of circumstances as dangerous.
In systems that employ literally thousands of components, the ways in which those components can interact is a number so large as to lose all meaning. This is the mathematical nature of complex systems and the reason why you can't predict their operation in foresight. To recognize in advance every potentially dangerous *combination* of all those components and all their respective operational states is simply impossible. It cannot be done.
When you design or operate a complex system you don't have the luxury of knowing ahead of time which paths of operation will lead to failure. You don't have the luxury of a single solitary path to reason through. You don't have the luxury of concentrating your attention on one variable that you know to be a root cause of some potential failure.
Imagine you're in a very large office building with which you are unfamiliar. There is a bomb in the building, wired into the building's electrical system. If you flip a certain combination of light switches either on or off, it will disarm the bomb. You do not know where all the light switches in the building are -- but you realize there are about a thousand of them. You do not know how many of the switches are wired into the bomb, and how many are still wired to the lights. You do not know whether to turn any particular switch on or off in order to disarm the bomb. The bomb is on a timer, so you don't have forever to experiment with the light switches.
Go.
--Jay
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
JR wrote:

And my TI, TSgt Bowels.
No matter how much I disagreed with the concept at the time it was introduced, in the last twenty something years I have come to see it's true. Or 99.9% true.
I won't take exception to your referring to me as a lawyer so I won't post how you must be a mamby pamby MaMas boy who believes everything that happens is someone else's fault thus releasing you of any personal responsibility so you can go on through this world fat, dumb and happy in your ignorance.
Nope, won't post that at all.
--
Mark

N.E. Ohio
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I take all responsibility for my fuckups and full credit for my successes.
Any time the successes outweigh the fuckups, I'm a happy guy. ;-)
-JR
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
George M. Kazaka wrote:

There needs to be a common sense balance.
I witnessed a two-car accident. There were 5 high school students in one car. No one was injured in either car. I chatted with the teen driver while the police and tow trucks were working. I told him that had he been driving a 1940's automobile there would have been serious injuries, maybe fatalities.
- No seat belts, and getting all cut up by going through a windshield -- especially pre safety glass, is very nasty. My boss vividly remembers an accident he saw when he was young. The person only made it part way through the windshield and IIRC died before the emergency workers could get him out. Tumbling out of the car and/or having it roll over the top of you can also ruin an otherwise promising career.
- Non-collapsible steering columns that came back to your chest. Sometime into your chest.
- Engines & transmissions that ended up in the passenger compartment with you.
- No air bags.
Etc.
Government safety standards had a lot to do with making these proven safety improvements ubiquitous.
Many of us have bled all over our tools & shop floors. A college roommate had an 8-inch scar on his arm. A great uncle twice cut off parts of three fingers.
I would like to see SawStop-like features become common. Between the blood-sucking lawyers and bean counters, the government often *has* to mandate things or they just don't happen. I wish it wasn't that way.
-- Mark
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Mark Jerde writes:

I'd love to see good safety features, but Saw Stop's owners went about it the wrong way after being slowed to a halt on their first try. The second try: getting the Feds to force the gate.
Back in either '56 or '57, Ford brought out seat belts, even then a proven safety device (in competition vehicles). The cost to the consumer was something low, even for the day, maybe $7. Bombed big time because people would not pay for seat belts as an option. The government forced seat belts into vehicles in, IIRC, the middle or late 70s. They have saved many thousands of lives.
But for a manufacturer to try to get the government to use unproven technology that adds appreciably to the cost of an item, especially when lower cost safety options are available, is just plain wrong headed. Saw Stop may save fingers. It will seldom save lives. And every time it fires, there's going to be a cost that is a sizeable fraction of the cost of the entire tool. There is no information on false firings that I've seen, nor is there reliable information on possible damage to trunnions, motor mounts, blades and similar parts. If the information is available, it should make it into more public arenas for consideration, whether it is favorable or unfavorable. Then, maybe, Joe and Jane Sixpack may be willing to spend $500 to $700 extra for the unit. Until then, it does seem unlikely, as does government intervention.
We do have to remember, though, that back in the early or middle '70s a few enlightened Congressional types called for seat belts on motorcycles, so who knows what might happen.
Charlie Self
"Man is a reasoning rather than a reasonable animal." Alexander Hamilton
http://hometown.aol.com/charliediy/myhomepage/business.html
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

There's an OpEd piece from the 1970's on Opinion Journal this week.
Seems that during that time, catalytic converters were one option to reduce emissions. Stratified charge engines, which converted waste fuel into actual MOTION, as opposed to the catalytic converter's waste heat, were being explored by Honda among others.
GM bought up several years usage worth of platinum.
Then they agressively lobbied Congress to mandate catalytic converters, which use platinum, which naturally caused the price of platinum to climb significantly. This hurt all other car makers. It hurt Chrysler enough that they needed a bail out.
But of COURSE GM had only the BEST of intentions. . .
Charles (Mike, I've NO idea whether or not GM has ever made a blanket chest)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
George:
I guess you can say "damn if you do, damn if you don't" from a manufacturers perspective.

The class action lawyers could be already lining up because there was a safety solution available to avoid the accidents and they could argue that the manufacturers were looking to make the almighty buck at the expense of some poor woodworking Joe-Bag-of-Doughnuts.
They already provide a cover and splitter for stock table saws that suck. Everyone in the industry knows that zero clearance throat plates prevent kickback in certain circumstances and what do they cost? But they are not provided a stock with table saw purchases.It's all about the almighty buck.
If you look at the auto industry and without the government intervening on seat belts,crash protection, and airbags we would be facing higher causality rates on our roads. Nobody I know buys Volvo's because they are sportier than a BMW.
I read recently that Health Insurers are looking at ways to minimize risk with their policies by limiting coverage on their insured who have dangerous hobbies. This is another attempt for them reduces claims and expenses. Can you imagine them classifying woodworking as a hazardous hobby?
Where does it stop nobody knows. I hope that SAW STOP makes traction with other manufacturers and their own product line.
Rich

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
George M. Kazaka wrote:

Oh no, not this again. Isn't this horse dead and turned into glue yet? :)
--
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sun, 14 Dec 2003 08:14:53 -0700, "George M. Kazaka"

He has a "how-to" TV show.

Agreed. However, anytime you are instructing anyone, you owe it to them to demonstrate the safest possible method. What they do later is up to them.
Anyone on TeeVee should demonstrate safe and correct methods.
Barry
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
in message wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sun, 14 Dec 2003 09:35:06 -0700, "George M. Kazaka"

But of course, none of them ever do. It's always "guards removed for clarity" and "let's do it quick before it costs us any more money."
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
B a r r y B u r k e J r . wrote:

Hafta admit I do that a lot with my crosscut sled. If I'm cutting a board into 12" chunks or whatever, I'll set a stop, push through, pull back, take the piece off, move the work up, repeat. Taking the piece off on the far side of the blade, where I'm reaching over it, strikes me as a lot more dangerous. Even if I were patient enough to cut the machine off and wait for the blade to stop between cuts, I don't like to do that. My blade runs reasonably true at speed, but when it's spinning up or slowing down, it flaps from side to side dramatically, and wallows out the kerf in the sled. Even avoiding that as much as possible, the kerf is quite V shaped, and useless as a reference for figuring out where the blade is going to cut.
(Yeah, my saw does suck. Indeed, indeed, indeed.)
--
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Not so bad of an issue with a cross cut sled on 90d cuts if you're careful ... but, at least to me, a big NO NO with a miter gauge.
On that same line, and if I am cutting absolutely precise miters, I do not pull the sled back when cutting miters on my TS miter sled, but instead turn the saw off and let the blade stop before removing the work piece.
I've ruined too many miters by just the slightest whisk of the blade hitting the workpiece on the backstroke. For the 60 seconds, total, it takes for four cuts, allowing the blade to come to a complete stop has saved me more than a few hundred dollars worth of stock.
But, as they say, YMMV more than my .02.
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 9/21/03
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.