…I simply mentioned both the pros and the cons.
People are so conditioned to take sides that a balanced analysis looks to them like hatred.
Dilbert, March 26, 2005
The book’s purpose is to discuss the role of an engineer who is involved with designing safe new products at a fast-paced design-and-manufacturing company. The book discusses product safety conceptually and also provides tools to help the engineer provide reasonably safe products to consumers. The role of engineering ethics is stressed throughout the product-design process (PDP) since mathematics and physics cannot completely answer the engineer’s question of whether or not the product is “safe enough.” The book covers three areas:
- The practice of engineering design
- Designing for product safety (DfPS)
- The application of engineering ethics to make critical product-design decisions during DfPS
Although there exist numerous textbooks and other resources for system-safety engineering and for industrial-safety engineering, there are few similar sources for product-safety engineering (PSEg). Although there are many materials on product-safety management (PSMt), the practice of PSMt differs significantly from that of PSEg.
This difference is especially true when a company does little, if any, of the product-design work, but instead simply retails a product that is designed, manufactured, and delivered by a series of other companies. Such a retailer may have little knowledge, let alone control, of the product which they will ultimately sell to consumers. In some such cases, PSMt becomes an “accounting” exercise of checking-off boxes on compliance forms regarding laws and regulations.
This book’s treatment of PSEg focuses on engineers at a design-and-manufacturing company which delivers innovative and possibly hazardous products to consumers around the world. The envisioned business environment is that of short product lead times and heavy competition to be first to meet user demands. It is focused on companies which wish to be competitive in the long term, rather than companies wanting to “get rich quick” and then exit the market before any product problems arise. Such problems may include product-safety recalls which are also covered within the book (see the Book Table of Contents).
Although the book is written as a textbook for engineering students, it should be of interest to, and readable by, many other people having an interest in safe consumer products. Much attention is paid to considering products of the future for which no standards and regulations, or other forms of engineering-design guidance, yet exist. Design engineers will need to beyond diagrams and numbers to make such products safe for their users. In some cases, engineering decisions may differ from their corporate managers and executives.
In the book, the author shares his knowledge gained as a product-safety engineer/manager at a large designer and manufacturer of innovative and hazardous durable consumer products. The material in the book has also been developed and refined through teaching an upper-division university engineering course at a major university for several years.
© K.L. d’Entremont, 2021