« Ethics of Expedience | Main | The Challenger Disaster and Others »

Ethics, Nail Guns and Technical Writing

After reading the article, whose at fault for these injuries and deaths? Does it come down to the technical communicator? Should technical writers be put in jail for sloppy work? Is the company ultimately at fault? What do you think?


After reviewing (yes I got tired of reading) the article, I noticed that the reading does mention how the user of the studgun determines what strength to use for different projects. It tells the user to start off any initial strength test on the green setting, and if the setting is not sufficient to rise it afterwards. In order for any user to be able to shoot a nail through a wall, into someone's head, the strength would have to be dangerously high unless the user is shooting through glass! So in my opinion, I believe a lot of the responsibility does fall on the user as long as the technical writer did make sure that the instructions were clear enough to understand. It's a very hard decision to make to find consequences, but hey I'm not a judge. If anything, the company could throw a little settlement money towards the family with the loss. Money can never cover a life, but the gesture could show future customers that they are a company who cares.

As Paradis says, the writing of a manual implies "a fictional operator who represents an average or suitably qualified individual" (p.370). When a technical writer is creating a manual or a set of instructions, they should be able to assume to some level that the reader will employ common knowledge. With that comes the assumption that a person using a complex instrument has some knowledge of how similar instruments work or at least has received training in the area. In both cases mentioned in the article, none of the operators of the nail guns held operators' licenses for the guns. When it comes down to it, anyone operating a dangerous piece of equipment should have been trained and certified to do so. This means that a technical writer should be able to assume that anyone using the product will have that certification. When incidents occur similar to those in the article, the fault should be on the company for not properly training and/or overseeing their employees.

After reading the article by Paradis, it is difficult to place the blame on one group of people in the two example cases of the nail gun injury and death. Overall, both situations were shady to begin with and it seems as if the manufacturers, the construction companies, and the workers themselves are all to blame considering the users were not licensed, warning labels were missing, workers had not been trained for use of the nail gun, operator’s manuals were inadequate, and the workers were not using precaution when operating the tool. In these two cases, the manufacturing companies are legally at fault due to the vague and non-specific operating manuals. Excerpts provided from the manuals displayed the vagueness of directions. For example, in the case of the stud guns and the description of proper materials they can be used on, a large amount of ambiguity was present. The manual suggested using hard materials, but what one person might determine as a hard material may be considered a soft material by another. As Paradis states, manufacturers who neglect to frame their technology in text are open to the charge of negligence. The manufacturers created this product so they must be responsible for both the good and bad attributes of it. Until a simplistic, descriptive and thorough operating manual is created, the manufacturer is ultimately at fault.

After reading the article I do believe that ultimately the company who made the studguns are at fault for the injury and death that their product caused. I do not believe that is it the technical writer’s fault because I’m sure they were not as knowledgeable on the product as the company. Also, before producing the instructions someone in the company had to give a go ahead and should have noticed the lack of warnings for their product.
I also believe that it is the companies fault because it had no safety warnings attached to them and the operating manual did not inform the user of the potential dangers of their product. Especially because of the danger that goes along with this product there should have been appropriate warnings on the product itself and in the operating manual. Even a McDonald’s coffee has a warning on the cup about the temperature of the coffee to prevent injury.
The company should have paid more attention to the depth of information in their operating manual. As referenced in the article, the operating manual cautions firing closer than 3 in. from concrete, but not wood, which ultimately injured the user in the neck. All types of material should have been listed otherwise the user will think that it is safe on other materials that were not called out in the manual. All and all, even though both users in the cases he talked about did not have operator licenses I do think that ultimately it is the companies fault for uniformed manuals and warnings for their product that resulted in injury and death.

I own two nail guns and it would not matter if you had the best instructions in the world, I and many other people in this world would never read them. As unfortunate and sad as these two deaths are, the lawyers in both of these cases are just looking for someone to blame after the fact. I think this article over-analyzed the situation because some applications would require the specified velocity, and in the second case, the worker was not even using the correct tool to install shelves, a drill and screws would be far more effective. Also as far a being licensed to use a nail gun, that is the biggest joke of the article, no such thing exists.

After reading the article, I do believe that it is the studgun operator's fault for causing a possible injury. When I read the article, I noticed that the technical communicators of the operator's manual we very concise detailed of the instructions to ensure that there was no confusion when using the studgun. For example, the writers included an effective method to test the force that the operator should use. So in conclusion, after reviewing the article , I have found that the writers provided detailed instructions in operation the tool; so I think the operators should be at blame for not reading the manual carefully.

After reading the article my reactions were that the construction company was at fault, because it is mention in the reading that in order for employee to be qualified to operate such a machine as the studgun they need to be well trained individuals. This means that it was the constructions company responsibility to make sure that all their employees were qualified individuals who were properly trained to handle such equipment. As mention in the reading the operators of the studgun did not have operating license, this show the negligence of the company for not enforcing the basic training needed to operate those guns. I also blame the manufacturing companies because they did not attach safety warning labels on the studguns and also the operating manual did not notify the users of possible dangers of the product. Every product that is even not that harmless has possible danger or warning on its labels or manuals, so for significantly dangerous equipment such as the studgun I think warning signs and potential danger should be attached all over it so that the user is as cautious as possible.

After reading the article by Paradis, I have to say that it is hard to say who is at fault. In our sociality people want there to be blame placed upon a group or a person. In this case, it is it is especially hard to say. In my opinion, the blame should go both. Ways. Seventy-five blame on the manufacturer and twenty-five blame on the user. When it comes down to injures and deaths the technical writing has to written at the zenith of its capabilities. For example, when McDonald got suited for not having labeled their coffee hot, they had to pay large amounts of settlements. Sometime there are people that try to take advantage of the law system. It does come down to technical communication. Instructions have to clear to be understood. If they are not then the technical communicator is liable for when things go wrong. Yes, the technical writer has the responsibility to do their jobs and when it comes to deaths and injuries. Why shouldn’t they be treated like criminals that kill? Is it not a crime to kill these days? When working for something that might result in deaths workmanship has to at its highest point. It is the technical writer’s fault and the company for allowing this to happen. Didn’t any one else check the instructions? So yes the company has priority to check the technical writers work. Check, check, and check it again before it leaves the manufactures.

I believe that the blame is partly due to both the nail gun manufacturer (employer of the technical writer) and the operators in both incidences.
The instruction sheets for my pistol and my nail gun references the words dangerous, serious injury, and death. The statements containing these words are clearly marked and forthright. The manuals for both nail guns should have had equivalent wording included warning the user of the seriousness of the equipment. Having established the partial blame to the lack of rhetoric in the manual, I further my position in argument by placing accountability for the lack of information in the manual on the organization as a whole and not solely on the technical writer. Businesses function on the theory of synergy, each department becomes increasing valuable as they join force with others on common goals. Therefore, I feel that the manufacturers of the nail guns should learn from their mistakes and pay for the loss of two men and their families in the trades.
As for the operators who have suffered the incidence, and both the men and their families forever affected by the nail guns, my empathy. These are very unfortunate incidences, and hope that the issues get addressed to help prevent any future events. I feel that the product was sold under the clause of caveat emptor (buyer beware). You can analyze the incident in many ways, and perhaps come up with some good points placing blame on the operators. In the end, it is hard to believe that any of these individuals understood the dangers and set out to carelessly to hurt someone. The proper tone must be set for all activities, including high powered nail guns. Therefore, I blame the operators for being consumed in earning a dollar, and putting themselves in an unfamiliar predicament with inadequate knowledge to safely perform their tasks.

After reading the article, it is hard to tell who is at fault. I do think there should have been more warning about the hazards that can happen while using the nail guns. I also think there should have been more information about what setting it needs to be on, depending on the material being used. I have no idea who should be blamed for the deaths, because obviously they weren’t on purpose. I don’t think anyone should go to jail, but I do think that technical writers need to be more specific when writing the manuals that deal with objects that can potentially kill someone. One thing for sure is that the warnings needed to be upfront and very easily readable, not just thrown in the back of the manual. They need to be in bold, large letters so people see them and take them seriously. I also think that the people who operate these kinds of equipment need to take them more seriously and they need to realize that they can actually cause death.

After reading Paradis’s article, Text and Action, I do not think it is a question of blame but a matter of legal responsibility. Fingers could be pointed in all directions - uninformed end users, a careless and negligent working environment, and a hastily prepared instruction manual provided by the manufacturer. All of these factors played a role in the unfortunate accidents, but it was the legal responsibility of the manufacturer to provide a clear and informative “client? focused manual. As the article states, a product’s manual is its contract to the consumer and needs to be explicit, regardless of whether or not it is believed that the end user will read them. In both cases of injury, the manufacturer did not highlight the danger that accompanies the use of the tool. The lack of warnings on the equipment itself and the packaging may have led to the indiscretion of the users. If a sufficient amount of proper warnings were given and explicitly explained in the operating manual, maybe the users and the employers would have taken a more cautious and proactive approach in the handling and use of the equipment.

Personally, I think it would be too simple to just blame one party. I would agree that the manufacturer of the nail guns should have done a better job in indicating the danger involved in using their product. Placing these warnings at the end of their operator's manual, a part which I rarely ever get to, doesn't seem to fall within the idea of informing your audience. For this reason, the manufacturer is at fault. At the same time, I think there is an inherent risk in using such a high-powered tool as a nail gun. If one can't locate specific operating instructions, I would think that that lack of knowledge would drive someone to inquire further before proceeding. Perhaps, then, the operator is at fault.

There are reasons for which a technical writer should be at fault in this situation. The first question I have is, did the manuals writer have any experience with the gun through R&D? If the writer had experience with the stud guns potential dangers, I'm positive they would have written or warned the operator of such dangers. Though, if the writer of the operating manual knew the dangers and neglected to mention them, then yes, the manual writer should be responsible for injuries involved.
Since these cases did happen to real people I think that both the company and the user of the stud gun are at fault.
The operating manual suggests that a person that represented the average or suitably qualified individual should only operate the stud gun. In both cases someone who was not certified for using this stud gun had been using it. If someone who was certified had used the stud gun would these incidents still have happened?

I, personally, think that the operator and the supervisor of the job site is at fault for this error. I think that any object has the potental to be dangerous, especially when it is poorly used. I think the manufacturer made a product that serves a particular purpose and whoever bought the studgun needed those specifications for the job at hand and therefore the operator should have learned the proper way to use the tool by the supervisor during a training or orientation session. I think the technical writer shouldn't be at fault because he has a supervisor, as well, that should have edited/proofed the writing for accuracy for product.

I think that both the operator of the stud gun and the technical writer of the manual instructions are at fault.
Only a trained or certified operator should be working with such a dangerous and complicated piece of equipment with many strength or power levels. The operator is at fault because they used the stud gun without having the required certification. The operator was not competent; therefore, they are at fault for any injuries or deaths as a result.
The technical writer is also at fault because the instructions they provided were not explicit enough, even for a trained operator. While those considered competent in areas may not have to read a full instruction booklet on how to operate a stud gun, the company should still provide a thorough explanation just for the sake of refreshing one’s mind. The manual only included instructions on which level the stud gun should be set. The instructions also failed to include hazard, warnings, or examples of what misuse could result in.

After reading this article I find it very hard to put any of the blame on the manufactures. First of all, both of the operators of the "studguns" were not licensed to use this kind of machinery. These individuals shouldn't have been using tools that they were not qualified to use in the first place. In addition to this, one of the operators was warned in the manual about not using the "studgun" 3" or closer. I think that it is very unfortunate that a couple of stupid people had to improperly use these tools that hundreds of other women and men use everyday. Maybe instead of these people suing somebody to make themselves feel better, they should take some responsibility for their improper actions.

My reaction to the Paradis article is that this "tool" is in fact a gun and should be approached with the same cautionary measures of usage as would be applied to the use of a handgun. The manufacturer is responsible for providing explicit warnings and should require that users are properly trained and licensed to use this product just as owners of handguns are required to obtain a permit for usage. Construction companies are also responsible for enforcing proper training of dangerous equipment to insure the safety of their employees as well as others in the area that could potentially be in the line of fire. The technical writer is responsible to provide instructions of safe usage to include examples and visuals with explicit warnings of potential risks of the high level firing power. Specific examples would be necessary to convey parameters of firing power. The company that hired the technical writer is responsible for reviewing and approving the instructions produced. The writer should not be expected to understand the depth of technical knowledge of usage, the guidelines and parameters need to be set by the manufacturer. Another obvious factor is personal responsibility for reviewing and understanding the proper use of this studgun. I would recommend that the manufacturing company mandate a permit requirement for operation of this tool to avoid future injuries.