TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: Avoiding Disaster From:Chris Hamilton <chamilton -at- GR -dot- COM> Date:Thu, 29 May 1997 08:24:32 -0500
Geoff Lane wrote:
> What about the legal position? In my understanding, the instructions
> must adequately cater for all foreseeable eventualities, including possible
> misuse. If they do not then the supplier is liable for any and all damages
> incurred (at least, that's the case under EEC legislation).
All foreseeable eventualities is a pretty heavy burden if you have
anything remotely complex (which we do). Is there a web site someplace
that has the code (as in legal code, not computer code) that specifies
By the way, there is some legal precedence for this in the states. If I
recall a pre-pre-law class I took in college, corporate liability was
greatly expanded in this country when some college guys were having a
kegger (beer party with kegs of beer) and pumped the keg until it
exploded. The deciding court held that the beer company, the keg
company, and the distributor were responsible not only for the proper
use of the keg, but for the foreseeable misuse, which included pumping
it until it exploded. (I think that's where the cork in the side of the
keg came from, but I could be wrong.)
As for the poodle story, I think it's an urban legend.
> Some time ago I heard that someone used a microwave cooker to dry out a
> prize-winning poodle. Needless to say, the animal expired. The
> manufacturer was found negligent because he had not stated, in the
> instructions, that the device was not to be used for such purposes. The
> point here is that ambiguous or incomplete instructions could be hazardous
> to your client's financial well-being (and yours, if you're a
> Geoff Lane
> GJC Technical Ltd.
>mailto:geoff -at- gjctech -dot- force9 -dot- net
> TECHWR-L (Technical Communication) List Information: To send a message
> to 2500+ readers, e-mail to TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU -dot- Send commands
> to LISTSERV -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU (e.g. HELP or SIGNOFF TECHWR-L).
> Search the archives at http://www.documentation.com/ or search and
> browse the archives at http://listserv.okstate.edu/archives/techwr-l.html
Chris Hamilton, Technical Writer
Greenbrier & Russel
chamilton -at- gr -dot- com