How to Develop a New Product with Design for Safety in Mind

Alright chaps, are you ready to learn how to design a product that won’t send your customers running for the hills with pitchforks in hand?

Then let’s talk about Design for Safety (DfS)!

DfS is a fancy term for a proactive approach to product design that aims to minimize the risks of injury, damage, or loss associated with using a product.

This involves considering a product’s potential hazards and failure modes throughout its life cycle, from conception to disposal, and applying appropriate design strategies to eliminate or reduce them.

Now, if you’re a product designer, you know that product liability claims are a real pain in the neck.

So, one of the main benefits of DfS is that it can help you avoid or mitigate these claims.

Product liability is the legal responsibility of a manufacturer or seller for any harm caused by a defective product to a person or property.

Product liability claims can arise from three types of defects:

  • design,
  • manufacturing, and
  • marketing.

To avoid being tarred and feathered by the law, you need to adopt some DfS principles and practices.

Here are a few strategies to get you started:

Conduct Hazard Analysis and Risk Assessment at Every Stage of Product Development

You don’t want your product to go BOOM! and cause any harm, do you?

Of course not!

That’s why it’s important to consider potential hazards and failure modes at every stage of product development.

This includes the design, testing, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, and disposal phases.

By identifying and evaluating hazards and risks early on, you can develop appropriate controls and countermeasures to eliminate or reduce them.

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Apply Relevant Standards and Regulations to Ensure Compliance with Safety Requirements

It’s always a good idea to play by the rules, right?


So, make sure you’re familiar with the applicable safety standards and regulations and ensure that your products meet or exceed them.

This will help you avoid legal liability and demonstrate your commitment to product safety.

Implement Quality Management Systems and Testing Procedures to Ensure Consistency and Traceability

If you want to avoid customers receiving a faulty product, you need to make sure your product consistency and traceability is on point.

Quality management systems (QMS) and testing procedures can help you do just that.

Implementing QMS and testing procedures can also help you defend against product liability claims by demonstrating that you have taken reasonable steps to ensure product quality and safety.

Incorporate Safety Features and Devices to Prevent or Control Hazards

Do you want to be known as the manufacturer who creates death traps?

No, you don’t!

That’s why incorporating safety features and devices is another key DfS strategy.

Safety features and devices can help prevent or control hazards and reduce the likelihood of injuries or damages.

For example, a safety interlock can prevent a machine from operating when the guard is open, while an emergency stop button can stop the machine in case of a malfunction.

Provide Clear and Accurate Instructions, Warnings, and Labels to Inform Users About Proper Use and Potential Risks

You don’t want your customers to use your product in the wrong way and end up hurting themselves, do you?

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No way!

That’s why clear and accurate instructions, warnings, and labels are crucial for informing users about proper product use and potential risks.

Instructions should be easy to follow, and warnings should be prominently displayed and easy to understand.

Labels should also include relevant product information, such as model number, serial number, and date of manufacture.

Monitor Product Performance and Feedback to Identify and Correct Any Issues

If your customers are having issues with your product, you need to address them pronto!

That’s why monitoring product performance and feedback is essential for identifying and correcting any issues.

Manufacturers should establish procedures for monitoring product performance and feedback and have a system in place for reporting and responding to product issues.

Addressing product issues promptly can help prevent injuries or damages and reduce legal liability.

Take Corrective Action, Recalls, and Safety Incidents Seriously and Promptly

You don’t want to be known as the manufacturer who sweeps issues under the rug, do you?

Of course not!

That’s why you should take corrective action, recalls, and safety incidents seriously and promptly.

Corrective action can include design modifications, manufacturing process changes, or quality improvements.

Recalls may be necessary when a product defect or safety issue is identified, and safety incidents should be investigated thoroughly to determine the cause and prevent reoccurrence.

A prompt and effective response to corrective action, recalls, and safety incidents can help manufacturers mitigate legal liability and protect their reputations.

By adopting DfS, manufacturers can demonstrate that they have taken reasonable steps to ensure the safety of their products and comply with their legal obligations.

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This can help them defend against product liability claims or reduce liability exposure.

DfS can also enhance customer satisfaction, loyalty, and trust and improve competitive advantage and market reputation.

So, what have we learned today, folks?

That’s right, Design for Safety is a valuable approach to product design that can positively impact product liability.

By adopting DfS principles and practices, manufacturers can improve product safety performance and reduce legal risks.

DfS can also benefit consumers by providing safer, more reliable, and more user-friendly products.

And who doesn’t want that?

So, let’s get to designing, chaps!

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