RE: clarity of terminology can save lives

Subject: RE: clarity of terminology can save lives
From: JB Foster <jb -dot- foster -at- shaw -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 06 Feb 2003 18:57:44 -0700

Hi Kevin,

The possibility of a company's marketing department deciding to downplay any
safety-notices - is more real than you think!

I've always wondered whether some writers chose 'caution' over 'warning' or
even 'danger', because they did not want to overly alarm either the users,
or potential purchasers. If you consider that the use of the word 'danger'
is seldom used in Europe; where instead 'Warning' is the preferred caption
used for safety-alert?s that deal with potential severe-injury or death. I
have to admit ? that there have been times, when I've thought of this
myself - Why bother to use the word ?danger?, when the Europeans are only
using ?warning? and ?caution?

Think of it this way ? If you had the choice between two sticks of
dynamite - where one is labeled ?danger: can explode once lit? and the other
is labeled ?caution: can explode once lit.? Which would you feel more
comfortable handling? Most people would instinctively go for the one with
the caution sign, thinking that it?s either a better-designed product, or
safer to use. Yet the wordings in both messages are the same. For that
reason, the decision of which signal-word to use, could influence how your
product is accepted in the market place. Also, if I remember correctly, the
ISO standard does not include ?signal-words? for safety-alerts; but instead
uses only a few universally recognized symbols along with the message panel.
Probably makes better a lot better sense to leave out the caption!


Kevin McLauchlan wrote:

> Marketing reviewer spies "Danger" in document, and furiously
> crosses it out, remarking that we are to avoid any hint or
> suggestion that our glorious product could possibly be
> anything but benign.


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