I am researching guidelines and considerations with respect to user safety when designing commercially sold products that contain user-operated machinery and moving parts (I.e. motors, pulleys, magnetic locks, etc). My objective for this work is to gain a better understanding of how to address potential hazards and determine if and under what circumstances any mitigations are needed to protect the user. The context to this with which I am concerned is when a user may misuse a product either unintentionally or unknowingly. Considerations for safety design feasibility (is it actually possible to do, will it cost too much, etc.) and legal obligation/protection by the user are also important. Can it simply be a matter of including an operating manual, which also lists specific do's and dont's?

A very simplistic example would be the operation of an automobile door window. Specifically an instance where a child or unaware individual could have their fingers or a whole limb caught in the vehicle window as it is rolling up. How can this potential hazard be classified as being of the user’s responsibility or the system’s? Are there any recognized standards or guidelines that are available to reference regarding safety design and hazard mitigation particularly for controversial misuse by the end user?

I should also mention, and to my best understanding, that the types of systems I am referring to have a level of hazard that categorizes as a major hazard, where they may result in physical injury of the user.

I would like to ask the community for help regarding these ideas, and to shed some light on how to approach assessing the need for designing additional costly safety features to mitigate potential user misuse of a product.

  • $\begingroup$ Yes, you imagine the most stupid way something can be (mis)- used and design to avoid it. $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Jul 3, 2021 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ ISO 14971 covers this for medical devices - I imagine there is an industrial equivalent. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 3, 2021 at 16:08
  • $\begingroup$ Before both the design and the users/operation manual are complete, and the product is approved for commercial use, I don't think the company can get away with liability issues shall anything bad happens during the test drive of the product. $\endgroup$
    – r13
    Commented Jul 3, 2021 at 16:09
  • $\begingroup$ And, anecdotally, no user ever reads the manual. If the outcome of the misuse is simply the device doesn't work, that's OK to explain in the IFU, but if there is a risk of harm, then the IFU is not sufficient as a mitigation. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 3, 2021 at 16:10
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ This is much to broad and vague to be answerable IMO. $\endgroup$
    – alephzero
    Commented Jul 3, 2021 at 16:39