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Warnings & Safety Guards – Product Liability

November 1, 2011

 

Warnings & Safety Guards – Product liability is a specialized area of tort law. There are, quite naturally, many different kinds of product cases. One type of claim involves whether proper warnings were provided to the user of the product. To answer this pivotal question, we would take a look at the applications specified for the product and would possibly encounter the specific question of whether safety guards were properly in place. Many hardware products could be considered as inherently hazardous due to the nature of their purpose. For example, a saw must have a saw blade in order to cut materials. The question then becomes, was the injured made aware of potential hazards and how to properly and safely use the product through sufficient warnings. Sometimes, warnings are placed on the actual device in a visible location. Often, warnings are presented in written materials such as instructions and operating manuals. Either way, the warnings should educate the consumer about the product’s potential risks and hazards. Using a powerful table electric saw as an example, it is probably not enough to provide only written warnings. The saw’s manufacturer should also provide safety guards to minimize consumer accidents and injuries. Since the saw blade is quite obviously a potential safety hazard, the manufacturer should certainly include a safety guard with every saw. What we often see, unfortunately, is that the saw operator’s employer removes the guard or neglected to install the guard in accord with the manufacturer’s instructions. A typical underlying reason for this dangerous decision is to accommodate a faster, more efficient work pace and higher production results. If the worker somehow removed the guard prior to being injured, we would want to understand whether the worker had received adequate supervision and training, how easily the safety guard could be removed, whether the employer adequately instructed the worker, whether the employer actually encouraged the employees to remove or disengage the safety guard, etc.. Ultimately, unless a thorough investigation and analysis is performed by claimant’s legal counsel, the manufacturer could be absolved of negligence, no matter how serious the injury.

 

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