Sooner or later, they’re going to get one right

When I was growing up, Dad always had workshop.  One of the mantra’s I heard him repeat (and find myself repeating to my kids) is “measure twice, cut once.”  That is, make sure the part fits before you make it permanent.  The parents of the good people of Zimmer apparently never imparted such wisdom to their kids.

41Z6K8E2MNL._SX300_

Zimmer has now had to recall a part of its Persona artificial knee implant, specifically, the Persona porous coated, uncemented trabecular metal tibial plate.  Say that three times fast.  It seems that Zimmer began selling its knee implant without doing any clinical trials first.  This is the same problem Stryker had with its hip implants recently.

Zimmer Persona knee components can become loose, causing swelling and pain, and develop radiolucent lines – large gaps between the parts of the implant and the bones – which can damage both the bones (called osteolysis) and the device itself.

What does this mean to you:

A couple of rhetorical questions come to mind.  Shouldn’t companies that make products, especially ones that get implanted inside your body, have to test them first?  And how does one actually recall a device AFTER its been implanted?

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Take a moment and repose yourself

Most people are familiar with a statute of limitations, a law that gives you a certain amount of time to bring a claim starting from the date of the injury.  That makes sense, since you know when you are injured.  A “statute of repose,” on the other hand, is a limitation on the amount of time starting from the date a product is made, whether you have been injured yet or not.

Seeking enlightenment

What makes these laws – such as Ohio’s law – particularly vicious is that they can cut off the ability to file a claim BEFORE THE INJURY HAS EVEN HAPPENED.  One a product had been made – whether that’s a medical device like a hip implant, a smoke detector, or a baby’s high chair – after 10 years, no claims can be made against the manufacturer.

What does this mean to you?

Not surprisingly, Ohio’s statute of repose has been described as “a victory for manufacturers.”  If manufacturers won, who lost?  And by the way, how does this make products safer?

And in other news, people no longer buying Ford Pintos

Change is hard.  I get it.  The people in the horse and buggy business probably didn’t like to see the advent of the automobile.  But as technology changes, especially in the the area of safety improvements, business must change and adapt along with it.

secret handshake

It is disappointing, then, but perhaps not surprising, to learn that many manufactures of table saws, such as Bosch, Black & Decker, Makita, and Ryobi, have been conspiring to thwart new safety rules to require automatic blade stop technology, called Saw Stop, in their saws.  And this is no small issue.  67,000 U.S. workers and do-it-your-selfers suffer blade contact injuries every year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

What does this mean to you:

Its one thing if they don’t want to adopt the safer technology, but its quite another to actively try to stop safer technology from being adopted as the standard.

Shop around before making a major tool purchase.  What you don’t know can hurt you.

The itsy, bitsy baby climbed out of the high chair

I saw this story in the Columbus Dispatch today noting an increase in the number of injuries to babies caused by high chairs.  On average, 9,400 kids are hurt every year due to high chairs – a number that has been on the rise.

Baby in highchair

To be sure, some injuries were caused by children climbing out, while other are related to defects in the chair itself.

What does this mean to you:

Always register your baby products with the manufacturer so you are kept abreast of recalls.  Or, you can sign up to receive alerts from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

 

Tis the season

I saw this list recently – the top 10 most dangerous toys of all time.  Some of the toys on the list are downright jaw-droppingly dangerous and would make Irving Mainway proud.  Take, for example, the CSI fingerprint kit made with asbestos dust, made as recently as 2007(!)  Others, like the Hannah Montana card game laced with lead, are not as obvious.

child gun

What does this mean to you:

Always fill out and return the warranty cards that come with children’s products so you know when a recall happens and you can be up to date with the most current information.

 

That is NOT normal

I am not sure if this video is a critique of engineering standards, politicians, or just Australians.  Nonetheless, it seems to illustrate the often odd, and sometimes belligerent, lengths some will go to in order to deflect personal responsibility away from themselves.

The front fell off.

What does this mean to you:

As wacky as this video seems, corporate decision-makers and insurance adjusters often don’t like to admit reality when there is money at stake.  That’s why a lawyer’s ability to take depositions of these folks in litigation and put them under oath is a powerful tool.

Add one more to the list

When we think of things that are dangerous to children, generally things like strollers or cribs come to mind.  But products designed for adults pose a dangers to little ones as well.  I stumbled on this tragic story about unstable furniture, like dressers, cabinets, and chests, that can tip over and pin children down, often with disastrous consequences.

Child climbing a dresser

What does this mean to you:

As parents, we can’t assume that only “kids products” pose dangers to kids.  To anticipate what children might get into, we have to to think like they would and approach common situations as they would.  Come to think of it, that might not be a bad way to approach life anyway for purposes of our health, business success, and mental acuity.

On guard!

Human beings make mistakes.  If we didn’t, there would never be a need for any kind of safety device – from a seat belt in a car, to blade brake on a saw, to a guard on a piece of industrial machinery.  Engineers and product designers know this fundamental truth and are supposed to take it into account when designing things.  If they don’t, that’s on them.

That would ruin your day.

It hasn’t been released yet what happened this month to the woman in Barberton, Ohio who’s hair became snared in a machine that cuts off metal pipe.  Amazingly, she survived, but only after her scalp was ripped from her head.  Was the machine properly guarded?  Did it use electronic eyes (like on your garage door) that detect a person moving or hinge-actuated interlock switches  – either of which can automatically shut off the machine’s moving parts.  That way, if the machine fails, it fails to a safe state, i.e., it fails safe by design.  Or, were there guards on the machine that, at some point, were taken off?

What does this mean to you:

While manufacturers of dangerous products can be responsible for injuries caused by those products, generally your employer is not.  However, if the employer removes a safety guard, that employer may still be responsible for injuries caused on the job.

Four score and seven fingers ago…

Now is the time you would expect a blog about product safety to post various tips and links about current fireworks law in Ohio and about how dangerous fireworks are, how you can be pretty badly hurt by them, and how you should really never use them.  Ever.  Well, not this blog.

Pew, pew, pew!

Instead, remember (just as I remind my kids each year when I read the Declaration of Independence to them) that one of the reasons we actually broke off and started are own, brand new country was the fact that King George III had taken away our right to have a jury trial.  That’s right.  Having your case heard before a jury – where both parties stand equal before the law- was so important to guys like Jefferson and Madison, that if they couldn’t have it, they were going to start their own country.  Jefferson even listed in the Declaration of Independence that the King was “depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury.”  That, among other reasons, required our separation from Britain.

What does this mean to you:

Be well, and have a safe and happy Fourth of July.

It’s all about the children

One of my favorite SNL sketches from back in the day was Dan Aykroyd as Irwin Mainway on the show “Consumer Probe.”  Mr. Mainway made toys for kids such as Johnny Switchblade, Bag O’ Glass (part of the very successful Bag O’ line), and Teddy Chainsaw Bear.  Classic!  The comedy lies in the fact that the danger in these kids products is patently obvious to everyone.

Is he playing with Mr. Skingrafter?

But plenty of products for children are recalled for hidden problems and latent defects each year.  Everything from strollers to cribs to toys with magnets in them.  Time Magazine just did a story on these issues.

What does this mean to you:

Though it is a pain, always fill out and return the warranty cards that come with products – especially children’s products – so you know when a recall happens.  A recall can be critical evidence in proving a claim.  Without a recall notice, you are relying on the goodness of Mr. Mainway’s heart to give you notice.