Consumers and self assembly products: problems and solutions

Children sometimes have accidents when using large items of play equipment, and whilst many are due to poor design or lack of supervision, some are due to inadequate or incorrect assembly. OBJECTIVES To examine the possibility of incorrect assembly and identify the consequences of errors and the resultant increase in hazards. METHODS The study collected accident statistics, surveyed the market and reviewed the literature. A variety of equipment was purchased and the instructions evaluated. Finally, trials with users were completed where the assembly procedure, time taken, errors made and subjective ratings were recorded. RESULTS Little literature was found but accident data from the UK, US and Australia showed minor injuries possibly attributable to assembling the product. Expert appraisals were conducted on 40 products to assess the instructions, assembly process and design, as well as the hazards presented during assembly and in use. Trials involving 100 representative subjects allowed observation of the assembly of products. The results showed a number of minor problems and hazards with the products. CONCLUSIONS The following improvements were recommended: • Standards applying to products requiring self-assembly should address the self-assembly process; • Accurate and meaningful information should be provided on the packaging;• Attention should be paid to the presentation and content of the product instructions • Products should be designed so that the assembly process is possible, relatively easy and safe to complete; Product components should be well designed, well machined and strong enough for the intended purpose. Furthermore, consumers must recognise their duty to make sensible purchases and to be responsible during assembly and use.