Part of good product design includes manufacturer provided warning and instructions directed to product users. Typically, this information discusses hazards and dangers inherent in the operation, use and servicing of the product. Although a product may conform to its intended design, it can still be defective, if the manufacturer fails to provide proper and effective warnings and instructions with its product.
Warnings and instructions attempt to convey information about the characteristics of the product. While both intend to convey a safety message in an effort to minimize potential harm that can occur with use of the product, instructions and an operator’s manual are intended to provide directions for the safe use of the product. Operator’s manuals may, however, contain specific warnings that may also be found on the equipment itself.
Operator’s manuals are an important part of a manufacturer’s obligation to provide a safe product. It is not intuitive to every purchaser and its employees, who are expected to use the equipment, how a manufacturer intended for its product to be safely used. Instructions are intended to provide clear sequential directions by the manufacturer as to the recommended and acceptable manner for safely operating and using its product.
Product warnings on the other hand are more focused in their intent. Warnings serve to point out hazards or dangers on machinery and equipment. Warnings are intended to both motivate and change human behavior. The object of warnings is to motivate product users to either do something affirmatively or refrain from doing something in order to protect themselves from a particular danger.
Warnings also serve to inform the uninformed and remind the informed. The message in a warning must communicate the consequences of failing to follow the instructions or ignoring them. Warnings need to be visibly and conspicuously placed on the product by a label, sticker, placard or plate.
While warnings are considered to be the least desirable alternative for safeguarding equipment, many practitioners overlook or miss a potential product’s warning case simply because they believe that the product had no design defect or was safe if used properly.
With many products, warnings are just as important as point of operation guards in preventing operator error.
With the proper and adequate warnings, accidents are greatly reduced.
In reviewing any potential products liability case, a thorough analysis of what warnings, instructions and manuals were provided with the product needs to be undertaken. If you’ve been injured by a dangerous or defective product, contact the Philadelphia products liability attorneys at Galfand Berger at 1-800-222-USWA (8792) to discuss your situation or submit a free online inquiry.