Mass manufactured products are used by both consumers (public) and industrial users for work activities. Latent defects introduced at the design or production phase are pernicious since many users can be adversely affected by a
single fault. If these issues result in ‘safe’ failures, then user operability issues arise. However, ‘dangerous’ failures can result in harm to many people and product recall initiatives are costly, time consuming and rarely result in the recall of a substantial proportion of the affected products. Within theUK there is increasing scrutiny and interest in product safety matters. There are also specific concerns in some industry sectors around counterfeit products.
This project aims to carry out a feasibility study to determine whether the Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE’s) product safety data could be systematised to provide insights into the root causes of product safety issues. HSE’s regulatory focus is upon the product safety of industrial products used for work, but this project also aims to assess whether there is value in combining intelligence from both consumer and industrial applications.
HSE holds a large regulatory dataset which includes the outcomes from many investigations into product safety issues. These often arise from complaints from equipment users and following accidents to people at work using industrial products. Historical analysis of the multiple factors which lead to an individual product safety issue has been challenging due to the volume of intelligence stored as free text including in document attachments within the database established.