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Lawsuit!: Reducing the Risk of Product Liability for Manufacturers by Randall L. Goodden

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7

Warnings and Instructions

Inadequate warnings and instructions were found to be the leading cause of product liability lawsuits for one major insurance company. As I am routinely brought into manufacturing corporations to teach in-house seminars on product safety and liability prevention, I never cease to be amazed at the companies whose management and engineering teams have no idea what the Z535 standards are. The Z535.4 standards are the standards for warning label design. It is the state of the art for warning labels, and yet I will walk into a major international manufacturing company producing high speed machines or high voltage control systems, and neither the engineering nor quality departments will have ever heard of this standard. Upon further plant inspection I will notice that the warnings they are using are vintage 20 years ago. How do companies, and especially engineering departments, lack such knowledge?

Just as the design of products and incorporation of the latest safeguards to prove the products are state of the art are critical, so are the warnings and instructions. Plaintiffs will look for the opportunity to challenge the adequacy of the warnings and instructions, as well as the conspicuousness of the warnings placement. So if the manufacturer is not even knowledgeable of the standards for warning label design, how could they hope to prove adequacy? Beyond the aspect of a good product liability defense, a Z535.4 warning label is quicker and easier to understand ...

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