Role of the Safety Analyst in Product Liability
The primary goal of a Safety Analyst is to determine whether a product is defective and unreasonably dangerous, and whether the company acted with reasonable prudence to adequately protect consumers from the oft times catastrophic risks of injury associated with the foreseeable use of the subject products.
To begin the analysis, data is collected through discovery, from government agencies, online databases, safety standards and other technical sources to address five specific questions.
Did the company:
- Establish and observe a written corporate safety policy?
- Identify and evaluate the severity and foreseeability of product hazards?
- Conduct an adequate design review assessing the risk of injury integrating
product hazards, the environment, and foreseeable use?
- Continuously monitor the safety performance of the product after sale?
- Take adequate corrective action (including recalls) to eliminate the hazard, guard against the hazard and/or warn consumers of the danger and motivate them to avoid injury
Did the CEO and top management have a system in place to predict foreseeable uses, correct product defects, and investigate accident reports to prevent future injuries?
When evaluating whether a product is defective and unreasonably dangerous, the Safety Analyst can determine whether the risks outweigh the benefits and whether risks unknown to the average person make the product more dangerous than the user would expect. Perceptions created by marketing and promotional material can be reviewed for their impact on foreseeable consumer use.
Where the manufacturer has failed to adequately warn consumers, the Safety Analyst can evaluate the manufacturers knowledge of those risks. Often the consumer is unaware of the extent and magnitude of the danger even if they generally understand that an activity can create an injury.
Warnings language that the manufacturer should have provided can be prepared for presentation during testimony. A timeline to place in context the manufacturers knowledge of hazards, risks and alternative designs can be prepared to illustrate whether the company failed to take adequate corrective action to substantially reduce or eliminate the danger.