Click on “Download PDF” for the PDF version or on the title for the HTML version.

If you are not an ASABE member or if your employer has not arranged for access to the full-text, Click here for options.

Managing Tomorrows Product Safety and Liability - The Engineers' Challenge

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Managing Tomorrow's Product Safety and Liability - The Engineers' Challenge. ASAE Distinguished Lecture No. 10, pp. 1-16. Winter Meeting of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers, 11 December 1984, New Orleans, Louisiana  913C1284.(doi:)
Authors:   K.L. Pfundstein
Keywords:   Why is Product Safety, Including Product Liability, so Important to Engineers, Particularly Young Engineers?, What is the Nature of the Product Safety/Product Liability Problem and Challenge?, What Should be Done to Correct the Problem?, What is the Role of Engineers in Dealing with the Safety and Liability Challenge?

By most measures, the engineering profession in this country is faced with unprecedented challenge in the immediate future. The challenge wrought by the combination of exploding technology and a dramatic shift toward an information processing society is at least as big as any faced in the past. Foreign competition is awesome. Superimposed on this is the increased priority on accident prevention as well as nearly unmanageable legal demands due mainly to the inconsistencies and abuses of product liability actions.

In spite of a progressively stronger commitment by manufacturers to product safety, and after years of intense regulatory and legal pressures, accident levels are disappointingly high and slow to decline. Instead of sharing a mutually constructive course of action toward overall accident reduction, the engineering and legal professions are operating in an adversarial vacuum. Product litigation often becomes so self-serving as to be counterproductive for product safety/accident prevention.

The purpose of this paper is to help engineers understand today's and tomorrow's product safety and liability climates, the implications of their interactions, and then to describe how to deal with the challenge in terms of policies and procedures in the design of tractors and other machinery. Engineers must continue to innovate - seeking and applying the highest practical level of safety technology, especially as it relates to human behavior. It's called PERCEPTIONEERING. By doing our homework well and performing professionally in the spirit of our engineering code of ethics, we can successfully mange the double-edged challenge to apply design judgments that are most effective in universal accident prevention and when necessary, to demonstrate their legal defensibility.

(Download PDF)    (Export to EndNotes)