“This is the kind of situation that is custom-made for the Consumer Product Safety Commission,” said Sally Greenberg, director of the National Consumers League.
Over the years, Greenberg had heard about Gass, his invention and his fight for stricter table-saw safety requirements in news reports. But when she learned that the CPSC had never moved forward with the new rules, she decided to step in, writing a letter to the CPSC urging speedy action. And a coalition was born.
Greenberg, Gass and the four victims of saw accidents spent this week in meetings with the CPSC commissioners as well as three Members of the House and Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).
The CPSC chairwoman told National Public Radio this week that the commission could propose a rule in the coming months that would require a safety technology such as Gass’ invention.
But agency commissioners still have concerns about how the industry would implement the regulation given the many patents protecting Gass’ technology.
“Historically, the agency doesn’t put out regulations that drive people to one company,” said Joe Martyak, counsel to Nancy Nord, the Republican commissioner who voted against the idea in 2006. “It has nothing to do with the injuries or the risk; that is clear.”
Others wonder whether Gass is using the federal regulatory process to advance his business interests.
“I can’t recall another time when the patent holder of the technology has approached the commission and asked the committee to mandate his product be used,” said Krenik, the lobbyist for the power-tool association.