What Standards Apply—and Meet Them!
Most products are designed to meet certain standards. These standards
address design and performance issues—and also in many cases, the
warnings and instructional information that must accompany the product.
Some standards have the force of law. For example, flammable
products like paint thinner must meet the requirements of the Federal
Hazardous Substances Act. This law includes specific requirements
for cautionary wording on the label. Other standards are developed
by industry associations or testing laboratories such as Underwriters
Laboratories, Inc. (UL) and, while not legally required, may be needed
to market a product effectively. Still others are voluntary standards
that apply to a wide range of products—such as ANSI Z535.4 Product
Safety Signs and Labels.
Know what standards apply to your product. Meeting applicable standards
is the first step in making sure that your instructions and warnings are
adequate. Even if a standard is voluntary, if it is widely accepted
(like ANSI Z535.4), you should meet its requirements unless you feel confident
that you can articulate why your approach is better. Meeting standards
alone does not guarantee that your warnings and instructions are adequate—but
failing to meet them puts you at a disadvantage from the start. Before
you launch a new product, research what standards apply, and make sure
you’ve met them.