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Sometimes Just Reading the Warning Label is not Enough

In June of 2012,  a Massachusetts resident decided it was a good day for cooking on the grill. To protect his skin from sunburn, he walked away from his hot grill to apply an aerosol sunscreen to his chest, neck and ears. Little did he know that although the aerosol can warned consumers not to use the product near an open flame, it didn’t warn users to stay away from fire after applying the product.

When he walked back over to his grill, the aerosol vapors lingering near his skin ignited, causing second-degree burns to his skin where he applied the sunscreen.

Many household items have inadequate warning labels

A study conducted by the New York Poison Control Center of common household products found that 85% had inadequate warning labels. As consumers, we have to wonder why manufacturers continue to drop the ball when it comes to providing sufficient information on product warning labels. Unfortunately, in many cases, a manufacturer’s decision is all about the bottom line. If a product sounds too dangerous on its warning label, many consumers won’t buy it. Instead, corporate executives sometimes choose to risk the health and safety of your family over the possibility of their losing sales.

Warning labels are governed by the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA) and the regulations under this act have specific requirements on what should be in the label and where it should be located.

What if a manufacturer claims it wasn’t aware of the danger?

Manufacturers are required to perform safety testing to ensure product safety and then warn consumers of risks. The fact that a manufacturer did not perform the test may not protect them from liability if it is a test they should have performed. They have a duty to protect the consumer from any foreseeable dangers. Even if the manufacturer claims that they were unaware of how long the flammable fumes lingered is true, the consumer could argue that that was a test they should have performed.

Contact the attorneys of Swartz & Lynch LLP if you have questions about a products liability claim in the Greater Boston area.

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