Amongst many other things, Adina also plans and writes product and safety information for various consumer products as well as industrial products. No, we’re not legal counsels (yet), but by benchmarking and with the expertise we have gained over the years, we gather and write legal texts applicable to the product in question. Of course, with industrial products, the manufacturer first needs to make a risk assessment to find out what kind of safety texts are needed and where, but Adina helps in editing the texts and making them easy to understand. These texts are then reviewed by legal counsels to ensure that all aspects of product safety and liability are covered, and the texts are legally valid.
As professional writers, our aim is to avoid legalese, you know the genre in which everything is written in a very complex way. Legal texts provide safety-related information about the product, so why make them complicated? After all, you’re providing important information about issues that may cause damage or even bodily injury. Shouldn’t it be a legal requirement that these important texts are easy to understand and digest? Caution shall be exercised while operating the vehicle may sound grand, but Be careful when driving the car is much easier to understand and obey. In the unlikely event of a failure in the internal protection circuitry, there is a risk of an explosion when charging fully or partially discharged batteries is difficult to comprehend, but the more straightforward approach is clearer: If the battery’s internal protection circuitry fails, the battery may explode during charging.
Occasionally, you need to explain why some action might cause a risk. However, do not exaggerate the risks as that may sound that you’re deliberately launching a dangerous product. Do not open the casing as that may damage the device is something the reader can easily accept, but Do not open the casing. Failure to follow this warning may result in death or serious injury and lead to criminal prosecution makes you think what an earth you have bought and is it really safe to use the product.
Product and safety information typically consists of a short intro stating that the reader should read the text carefully and keep it for future reference. The body part of the text contains installation and general use related safety notices, as well as care and maintenance instructions. The backmatter contains regulatory texts, such as recycling and certification (CE, FCC, NCC) information, copyrights, and possible warranty texts.
If in doubt about what kind of legal and safety texts are applicable to your product and should be included in the user guide, start by studying the regulations that concern the product itself, as they usually have requirements also for the end-user instructions. You can often find this information in a section that talks about information or instructions for end users. For example, in Directive 2006/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2006 on machinery (the EU Machine Directive, as we refer to it), you can find quite detailed requirements for technical documentation in Article 1.7.4 called Instructions. Admittedly, some of the contents in the directives need interpretation, but at Adina, we’re happy to share our expertise in them with you.
– Ulla & Anu