RE: Fw: Why do we put so many warnings in our manuals?

Subject: RE: Fw: Why do we put so many warnings in our manuals?
From: Daniel -dot- Glovier -at- ubsw -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 30 Jul 2002 13:54:31 -0400

> Sorry, but when I spill coffee on my lap pulling out of
> McDonald's, it's
> MY fault. Whether it was an accident or not. Whether it was
> stupid or not.
> Whether I'm badly hurt or not. My fault, ergo it's my problem.

Rave on, brother, rave on. Individual responsibility is almost a thing of the past, and that's just a shame. That's why we can no longer have those cool steel trucks I had when I was kid (and still have) or play lawn jarts. Bah.

Tech writing tie-in on warning labels: (forgive my lack of details... I was young and this was about 15 years ago)
Make sure, if you have to, to follow up on the exact requirements of your warnings with your legal department. Why? I worked for a company that produced high voltage equipment, including those switches that you see on top of the utility poles. Well, when it comes time to swap something out of their machines or change a switch, you can guess how many warnings they must have.

Someone was replacing a switch, and was injured as a result of a mistake on his part that was clearly covered by the warnings. He sued and won a decent amount from my company? Why? Oh, there was a manual that one had to read before they were allowed to work on these things that was chockful of warnings against the particular injury he suffered. The switch itself not only had a warning on it, but the box it came in had a warning, and there was a "warning flyer" inserted on top of the switch. However, the pole that they used to replace the switch did not have a warning label properly located on it. It was on there, in plain view, but it was about 2-4 inches away from (for lack of a better term) where it "should be."

So, despite approximately 4-5 warnings that he saw, because a warning label was positioned incorrectly only by a few inches (still very visible, mind you), he won his case.

As I said, make sure legal gives the go-ahead on these sorts of things.

-Dan Glovier

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