Risk Communication

Subject: Risk Communication
From: rjl -at- BOSTECH -dot- COM
Date: Tue, 18 Jun 1996 12:26:11 EDT

Dan Wise said:

>As for publishing cautions and warnings in commercial manuals, most
>companies will try just about anything, as indicated by some of the
>comments already made, to avoid them.

Different companies have different feelings on this. A former employer
of mine was adamant about including Warnings/Cautions at every possible
place. If you used lubricating oil in three steps on one page, then you
had to insert the "Hazardous Material" warning three times on that page.

(I raised this point about two years ago on this list, concerned that
this would cause desenitization of the warnings. I asked if anyone on
the list had information about the risks of over-using warnings, there
seemed to be very little info available on this.)

>This has been the subject of at least one of the ethics cases published
>in recent years in the STC newsletter Intercom. If we as TCs know or
>strongly suspect that a caution or warning should be published in our
>documents, what is our moral and/or legal obligation to make sure it

If a company is determined to produce a manual a certain way, it's gonna
be done that way no matter what the TC says. The input from lawyers will
count far more than anything we can say.

If I were in a position like the one described above, and had lost the fight,
I think I'd put together a "Pearl Harbor" file. Write a couple of memos
to the higher ups that makes it clear you disagree with the decision and
are concerned about the consequences, save some draft pages that show the
material in place...and tuck copies of this away someplace safe. That way,
if it hits the fan, at least the company won't be able to pin the blame all
on you.

Rick Lippincott
Boston Technology
Wakefield, MA
rjl -at- bostech -dot- com

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