Using Warnings and Instructions to Increase Safety and Reduce Liability


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Take this course when it’s offered next!

Course Overview

The requirements of product warnings and instructions is ever changing. Manufacturers are well advised to stay abreast of new developments in law, standards and methods of communication.  Thoroughly developed warnings and instructions remain the most cost-effective way to increase the safety of your product while decreasing your product liability exposure. Learn about new developments in your legal duty to warn, the latest ANSI standards that apply to product warnings, factors useful in evaluating effective warnings and instructions, and how to test and revise warnings and instructions. You will learn about recalls and post-sale obligations, how AI will impact safety messages, and what the future holds for communicating safety information. 

Who Should Attend?

  • Managers 
  • Engineers 
  • Technical writers
  • Product safety specialists
  • Anyone responsible for creating or reviewing instructions and warnings

Additional Information

Although not required, course attendees are encouraged to bring ANSI Z535.4 and ANSI Z535.6 to class.

Course Outline

Section 1: The Legal Duty to Warn and Instruct

Cal Burnton will address the development and current law relating to  a manufacturer’s duty to provide safety information to users of its products.  Doing so prevents accidents and provides the company the tools they need to successfully defend itself in a court case.  Among the topics will include:  

    • What are your legal responsibilities?
    • How did we get here and the theories of liability: negligence/strict liability
      • Factors in determining whether a duty exists
    • Open and obvious hazards and warnings
    • Foreseeable/unintended/unforeseeable Misuse
      • Modifications of products and their impact on your responsibility
    • Adequacy of warnings
    • Causation: Did the failure to warn cause the accident?
    • Post-sale duties: Warnings/retrofit/recalls
    • ANSI Z535 Standards for Manuals
    • Cases hot off the press
    • How to improve your product and organization

Section 2: Product Safety and Recalls – Diving into a company’s general expectations and obligations to provide notice and warning when a product puts users at risk


During this session, we will discuss best practices and help you establish a recall-ready blueprint to help your company efficiently and quickly execute a recall.  Topics that will be discussed include:

  • Understanding legal risks and public relations risks as a result of recalls
  • Exploring preventive strategies to minimize the possibility of a recall
  • Develop a blueprint on how to effectively manage a product recall or market action in the marketplace once a defect is discovered – making the decision when and how to recall
    • Voluntary recalls vs mandatory recalls
    • Field actions and corrections
    • Market withdrawals and stock recoveries
  • Determining who, what and how to notify when it comes to relevant authorities, consignees and other stakeholders
  • Review some past recalls to learn how to avoid similar situations

Section 3: On-Product Warnings: ANSI Z535.4 and ISO 3864-2

“Failure to warn” and “inadequate warnings” continue to top today’s product liability allegations. Angela Lambert will provide an overview of the ANSI Z535.4 and ISO 3864-2 standards and how they can be used as the foundation for effective labels and instructions. The session will include a discussion on the most recent updates to the standards and warnings considerations related to digitalization and automation, as well as a ‘label workshop’ to analyze real-world scenarios.

Section 4: Developing Warnings and Instructions for Product Safety

Mark Hickok will provide a practical approach for developing instructions and warnings.  He will provide guidance of key areas for consideration while creating product materials, and how to integrate product safety into your business's product development processes and the product’s life cycle.

  • Integrating product safety into your product line
  • Warning and Instruction Development considerations
  • Practical considerations in the development of warnings and instructions

Section 5: The Promise and Peril of Using Generative AI for Product Warnings and Instructions 

Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) tools are developing at an incredible pace and promise to profoundly impact industries across the board. GenAI tools will almost certainly have a place in developing product warnings and safety instructions. At the same time, GenAI poses real risks for companies if not handled in a thoughtful and intentional manner. Nick Peterson will explore potential use cases for GenAI in the product warning and instruction space as well as the potential risks in relying on GenAI.

Section 6:  Considerations for evaluating warnings and instructions

There are many ways in which safety information can be evaluated – how can you choose what works for you? Jared Frantz will present a number of evaluation methods and provide insights for what kinds of questions evaluation can help answer. Practical application will be discussed through case studies. 

Section 7:  Warnings and Label Digital Trends

The landscape of communication is evolving toward digital platforms, and warnings and labels are no exception. As product warning labels and instructions transition to digital formats such as QR codes and dynamic in-app warnings, juries are challenged to define compliance with applicable standards. Explore the advantages, potential challenges, and best practices for manufacturers navigating the communication of digital product warnings and instructions to consumers.


"The program is very well-rounded and covers each of the elements of warnings and instructions in a thorough, effective, and interesting manner."

"I'd be hard pressed to say what was best—there was so much useful information, and the outside experts were super."

"Good consistent information throughout the presentations. Everyone had the same message for action by companies for warnings and instruction."


Cal Burnton

Cal Burnton has tried and won numerous complex toxic tort and product liability cases, earning a national reputation for his ability to coordinate, manage, and defend mass toxic tort and complex product liability cases with a special emphasis on high-risk matters involving novel legal, scientific, and environmental theories. His clients have included leading manufacturers and sellers of products such as chemicals, healthcare appliances, toys, medical devices, electrical equipment, firearms, printing presses, industrial machinery, and power tools. Mr. Burnton is a trusted counselor to his clients, advising them on issues regarding product liability, government regulations, product safety, and related matters. Throughout the years, he has represented corporate clients in both federal and state courts in almost every state across the country.

Ryan Gooley

Ryan Gooley is a Product Recall Advisor for Sedgwick Brand Protection Solutions, where he has played a vital role in the execution of over 1,500 recalls, withdrawals and market corrections for some of the highest profile food and beverage, consumer product, and pharmaceutical companies globally. Throughout his 18+ years in the product recall management industry, Ryan has led clients through every step of the recall process and other crisis related events.

With many global clients, Ryan's work has contributed to the successful resolution of hundreds of international product recall efforts over the course of his career.

Prior to joining Sedgwick, Ryan held multiple management and operation positions. He received his Master’s of Business Administration at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois where he also obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management, with minors in International Studies and Professional Conflict Resolution.

Angela Lambert

Angela Lambert has over fifteen years of experience in product safety, warnings, and liability. In her role at Clarion Safety, she collaborates with manufacturers – as well as industry partners and advocates – on labels, signs and markings that can help reduce risk and protect people. That includes having a keen understanding of visual safety communication standards, as well as safety label content/design, color systems and print production. From a standards perspective, Ms. Lambert is actively involved at the leadership level in the ANSI and ISO standards for product safety. She is chair of the ANSI Z535.1 subcommittee, leading the standard that focuses on colors used in visual safety communication. She is also a delegate representative to the ANSI Z535 committee, to the ISO/TC 145 SC2 WG 1 committee (responsible for the library of ISO 7010 registered symbols and the ISO 3864 set of standards), and to ISO/TC 283 (responsible for the ISO 45001 standard). Additionally, she is the liaison for ISO/TC 145 to ISO/TC 283, acting as a bridge between the international safety label/sign standards and workplace health/safety standards.

 Ms. Lambert is also an expert speaker on product safety and visual safety communication at universities and associations across the country. In addition to designing and producing best practice labels and signs, Clarion Safety specializes in guiding its clients through a streamlined process to implement cutting-edge visual safety communication systems in line with today's leading safety standards. The company also provides complementary services for comprehensive machine safety, compliance, and risk reduction – in part through its affiliated business Machine Safety Specialists and Arrow Industrial Solutions. Clarion Safety is a member of the ANSI Z535 Committee for Safety Signs and Colors, the U.S. ANSI TAG to ISO/TC 145, and the U.S. ANSI TAG to ISO 45001.

Mark Hickok

Mark Hickok CPSP, CFEI, is Vice President – Product Safety and Regulatory Compliance for Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation.  He brings over 30 years of product safety experience and has extensive background working in global new product development and leading product safety teams and activities.  His work includes directing the development of warnings and instructions, performing hazard analysis reviews, ensuring compliance with a variety of domestic and international standards and regulations.  He is the current Chair of the ANSI Z535.4 Subcommittee on Product Safety Signs and Labels, a delegate to the ANSI Z535 committee, a member of the Society of Product Safety Professional Board, and additionally serves as a representative to numerous trade associations and standards-making committees.  Mr. Hickok holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and a master’s degree in Engineering with a focus on ergonomics and biomechanics, both from Marquette.

Nick Peterson

Nick Peterson works at Wiley Law in Washington, DC. Nick has his J.D., University of Virginia School of Law. He has represented major government contractors, nonprofit organizations, and companies operating in the environmental, aviation, healthcare, technology and consumer product sectors.

Jared Frantz

Jared Frantz is a Senior Human Factors Consultant for Applied Safety and Ergonomics, A Rimkus Company. He is a Certified Human Factors Professional who specializes in human factors/ergonomics, warnings, and product and occupational safety. He has extensive experience developing and evaluating warnings and safety symbols for a wide variety of consumer and commercial products and is a member of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z535.4 Subcommittee on Product Safety Signs and Labels and Z535.7 Subcommittee on Product Safety Information in Electronic Media.

An Nguyen

Dr. Nguyen received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Truman State University, her Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Cognitive Science from Johns Hopkins University. She has over 6 years of experience conducting behavioral studies with human subjects to understand their cognitive abilities.

Dr. Nguyen specializes in assessing human factors issues across a range of litigative and research-based projects. In evaluating warnings, labels, and instructions, she leverages her cognitive science expertise to go beyond surface-level assessments. She studies the intricacies of how individuals interpret and process linguistic information, ensuring that communication elements align with human cognition principles. Dr. Nguyen's work also extends to investigating cognitive aspects related to incidents such as slip/trip/fall, product misuses, and vehicle accidents. Her analyses encompass various factors, including visual perception, environmental cues, attention, and individual expectations. Active in her professional community, Dr. Nguyen is a member of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) and the HFES Forensic Technical Group. She is also associated with the Linguistics Society of America.

Upcoming dates coming soon!

Take this course when it’s offered next!

Program Director

Susan Ottmann

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