Companies have an obligation to attempt to make products that do not unreasonably risk the safety of the public. Products are supposed to be designed safely and manufactured to a standard that is high enough that they can be used, as intended, without resulting in injury. Ideally, companies either follow all applicable safety standards or come up with designs that are not inherently dangerous.
But this is not always possible. Some companies make products that are, quite simply, inherently dangerous. Examples of inherently dangerous products are pocket knives and chainsaws. There has to be some inherent level of risk in order for these products to be used as intended. What should a company in this situation do to minimize its risk of liability and maximize safety for consumers?
Instructions and warning signs
Documentation that a company provides with its products is critically important in this regard. These documents should include instructions on how to use products safely. They should also have warning labels or warning signs to help people avoid common hazards. Naturally, these labels do not make a product any safer than it was before. The same inherent danger still exists. But by informing the user of this danger, the company reduces its own liability. If a user reads the warning labels and the instructions, and use the product as intended, they should be able to do so without getting hurt.
Using products in ways they weren’t intended to be used
People will sometimes ignore warning labels or use products in a dangerous fashion. A common example is someone who overrides the safety system on an automatic nail gun by taping the trigger back. This does make it faster to use the nail gun on a roofing project, but it violates the instructions in the manual and increases the level of risk substantially. If that person was injured by the modified nail gun, the company could argue that it was not responsible for those injuries because the accident wouldn’t have happened if its warnings had been heeded.
Protecting a business from litigation
After a serious injury occurs, disputes will sometimes arise, perhaps leading to legal action by the injured party. Business owners need to make sure they are well aware of all the legal options at their disposal under these circumstances. Seeking legal guidance is a good place to start.