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CPSC-Industry To Develop Safety Rules For Chain Saws

Release Date: March 30, 1978

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission voted today to participate in an industry effort to reduce risks of injury from chain saw kickback and directed its staff to enter into an agreement with the Chain Saw Manufacturers Association, Washington, D.C., to develop a voluntary standard to address that hazard rather than a mandatory safety rule.

Since 1973, 30 deaths tied to chain saws have been reported to CPSC. Most were caused when the blade of the saw severed main blood vessels in the neck (carotid artery or jugular vein). Last year, almost 40,000 people were treated in emergency rooms for chain saw-related injuries, an increase of 47 percent since 1975. Many of these injuries are associated with chain saw kickback, the sudden and unexpected movement of the blade toward the user's body. Other frequent injuries include lacerations to the hands, lower arms and legs, and the face, head and neck.

The industry plan proposed by the Chain Saw Manufacturers Association calls for a review board comprised of a non-voting but fully participating CPSC member as well as consumer and industry representatives who would be responsible for writing performance rules to reduce the kickback hazards of gas and electric chain saws.

CPSC will continue gathering statistics on chain saw injuries, and if the voluntary plan is not deemed adequate at any point during the process, the Commission could still vote to develop a mandatory safety standard to address the kickback problem.

Today's Commission vote leaves pending final action on a petition from John Purtle, Esq., Batesville, Ark., who in 1977 asked CPSC to develop a mandatory safety standard to "minimize and prevent chain saw kickback." A final vote on the request will take place shortly after the details of the new CPSC-CSMA voluntary effort have been worked out and the Commission has made a determination on the voluntary agreement.

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risk of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product-related incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of injuries associated with consumer products over the past 50 years. 

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