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Journal Article


Wilson JR. Appl. Ergon. 1983; 14(2): 109-116.


Department of Engineering Production, University of Birmingham.


(Copyright © 1983, Elsevier Publishing)






An assessment is provided of the current position regarding changes in UK or EEC civil law under which injured parties can obtain redress in respect of injuries caused by defective products. One effect of proposed systems of strict liability in tort will be to shift some of the burden of proof from the injured party on to the producer of the product claimed to have caused injury. It is argued that this is a just and logical change, given the unfairness and anomalies in present systems and the relative abilities of consumers and producers to avoid such incidents and to bear or to offset the cost of the consequences. Cases of apparent misuse of a product by a consumer may frequently be induced by the design of that product and could thus be prevented by more thoughtful design. In order that producers can ensure their own viability and satisfy the consumer market, their products must be safe, efficient, comfortable and satisfying to use, as well as durable, serviceable and realistically priced. One requirement for achieving this has been said to be the input of accident and ergonomics data early in the product development process; the present paper examines this proposition. Evidence is provided by research into the design and manufacture of consumer products for the UK market, carried out at Birmingham University. Examined in particular are the extent to which formal development processes and design safety review procedures are used, and the degree of utilisation of accident, ergonomics, user testing and market feedback data, identifying barriers to the widespread use of these. Safe and ergonomic design of products must aim to be seen as a positive business activity, rather than as a cost-centre. The benefits to a company of a comprehensive design safety programme will more than outweigh the costs given the pressures identified earlier.

Language: en


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