Keep Good Records
The computer revolution was supposed to make record-keeping easier and more
efficient. No more overstuffed manila folders jammed into file cabinets.
In fact, no more file cabinets, period! Instead, all our documents
would be stored seamlessly and weightlessly in electronic form. What
the forecasters didn’t anticipate was that computers would make it
so much easier to generate and change documents—and that you can misplace
electronic documents just as easily as you can misfile a piece of paper.
Keeping good records is critical to improving product safety and reducing
liability exposure. Four areas in particular can help you if your
records are solid:
- Product manual revisions
—know when each of your manuals was revised and know what changed
with each revision. Particularly if revisions occurred in response
to customer input or safety concerns, documenting that can show that you
are concerned about your customers and do all you can to keep them safe.
- Hazard analysis findings —whenever
you conduct a hazard analysis of a product, be sure to document the results.
Include the hazards identified and the company’s decision
as to the best way to address the hazard. Doing so shows that the
company takes a systematic and thorough approach to managing product hazards.
- Warnings test results —when
you test your warnings, documenting the results can show that your warnings
are effective. Of course, if the results show that they are not
effective, you need to revise them—and document that too!
- Service call information —if
the service department keeps good records, that will often give information
about where instructions need improvement. And a drop in service
calls for a particular problem following a revision can show that good
manuals are a cost-effective investment.
It may add a little time to set up and maintain a good record-keeping
system, but in the long run, it will save many hours and much frustration.