Manufacturers should adopt an internal Product Liability Prevention (“PLP”) program. The first step in developing a PLP is to select a team leader. Larger companies should create a team to help this person deal with overall issues, especially in multi-plant organizations.
Once the players are in place, the team should educate the company regarding what product liability prevention is about. This will include in-house seminars with the entire management team. The areas addressed at the seminar should include:
- Contracts and Agreements – the importance of wording of purchase orders, customer contracts, and contracts for shipping products internationally.
- Product Design – holding design reviews, establishing a product safety team, and hazard analysis/risk assessment.
- Marketing and Advertising– understanding possible liabilities that can be created by mistakes in marketing and advertising campaigns.
- Reliability Testing– performing adequate reliability tests on new products, and how to document and respond to product problems and negative test results.
- Document Control – the entire company, not just management, must understand the importance of the documents they generate, the potential dangers created by what they write, and how to deal with sensitive management issues and decisions.
- Warranties– explaining express and implied warranties and how they can turn into a products liability lawsuit.
- Warning Labels and Instructions – when to develop warning labels, and how to design and place them (i.e. whether to include warnings in the operating instructions or a label).
- Records Retention – developing of a company-wide record retention policy and ensuring it is followed.
- Vendor Mistakes – ensuring the company is adequately protected against supplier and subcontractor mistakes through contractual language.
- Recall Procedures– the company needs to have a plan in place should it ever need to conduct a product recall. Do not wait until a crisis occurs to figure out what to do.
- Liability Investigations – how to recognize potential liability incidents and how to properly investigate them when first reported.
Kring & Chung, LLP is experienced in representing manufacturers in products cases. Contact us for assistance in setting up your Products Liability Prevention program.
Laura C. Hess is a Partner with Kring & Chung, LLP‘s Irvine, CA office. She can be contacted at (949) 261-7700 or [email protected] .