Manufacturing safe products involves combining and applying all of your knowledge to the design, production and marketing of products. As a manufacturer, there are a number of steps you can take to make products safe.
The greatest opportunity to reduce hazards in consumer products is at the design stage. Manufacturers and those who control product design have the power to:
identify possible hazards in proposed products
improve the safety of consumer goods they make through thoughtful design that eliminates or greatly reduces hazards.
Measures for safe design
Evidence shows that taking the following measures at the design or re-design stage helps to eliminate or minimise the risk of product-related injuries. Some measures are more effective than others. In the list below, the most effective measures are at the top and they become less effective as you move down the list.
Remove hazards and risks in your design or redesign before you make the product.
Reduce risks by choosing the least dangerous mechanism or material to make the product.
Incorporate safety devices into the design that can alleviate any hazards
Plan and write up effective information for consumers that you will provide on or with the product, such as through instructions, labelling and safety education.
Suggest actions consumers can take, such as purchasing personal protective gear.
Guidance for safe design
You can get guidance for safe product design from Australian and international standards. These are available for:
individual product types, for example, the Australian Standard on Bunk Beds, and
processes, for example, ‘ISO Guide 50 – Safety Aspects – Guidelines for child safety’.
2. Develop consistent production and post-production processes
The more variations there are in production—such as using different materials—the greater the risk of a product being different to the tested sample. Make sure production and post-production processes are consistent and if they change make sure you test the product again.
It is essential to have a risk management process in place. Australian / New Zealand Standard 4360:2004 ‘Risk management’ provides general advice on managing risk. Manufacturers should apply this standard to all stages in the life of a product. You usually get the most benefit when you apply the risk management process right from the start.
It is essential that the products you supply into the Australian market comply with any mandatory standards that apply to them. If none apply, then complying with voluntary standards is recommended. You can search for voluntary standards at the SAI Global website.
In many cases, independent assessment and certification services can help manufacturers ensure their systems and procedures are working well to create safe products. See the product testing page on this website for more information.
It is illegal to make claims about a product that exaggerate or misrepresent what it is designed to do, so consider all of a product’s key safety aspects before advertising or marketing it trade customers.
Advertisements, catalogues and displays
Make sure that any statements about a product, photos or displays of it show the product exactly as it is when a customer buys it. If a product comes with mandatory safety features or labelling, it may be illegal not to show these.
Marketing and sales
Don’t overstate what a product is capable of, even though it might be tempting to do this when trying to sell it. This can have safety consequences as well as legal ones. Make sure your sales staff members know to avoid this.