The elements of a program to deal with pre-sale and post-sale safety issues are well-known. But the specifics of what elements should be used and how by a particular manufacturer are often unknown. Therefore, the most important question that must be answered by any company manufacturing finished products or component parts is “What should my company do and how should I do it?”
Design plans, engineering drawings, production procedures, safety memoranda, and marketing strategies can significantly help or hurt a manufacturer or product seller, especially in the event of product liability litigation.
One of the more perplexing issues I have grappled with over the years is determining when an industrial product becomes a consumer product and therefore subject to the laws concerning consumer products.
In 2011, Australia and Canada adopted new product safety laws that require manufacturers and others in the supply chain to monitor their products in use, and to report safety issues and take appropriate corrective actions in certain situations. In addition, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has become more aggressive in levying civil penalties on companies who do not report safety problems in a timely fashion.
Product liability has created problems for manufacturers and product sellers for many decades. These problems have been exacerbated by the expansion of product liability laws throughout the world. In addition, there has been a proliferation of safety regulatory requirements, starting in the United States and then moving to the European Union. In addition, countries such as Japan, China, Australia, Canada, Brazil and South Africa have all recently established or strengthened their product safety regulatory regimes and requirements.