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Open Letter To Our Lawmakers

INSTRKTIV Blog - Law & Legislation

I asked our illustrator to design these safety signs. I would like to bring them to the attention of the world's lawmakers and standardisation institutes. Please let me explain why we created this sign and why I need your help.

These are challenging times.

Being restricted and working from home over the past week, I have been thinking (more than ever) about all the traveling I do, the food I eat and the things I buy. Being concerned about the future, I realise there were so many things that I took for granted most of my life.

If there is one benefit of the current crisis, it is that the earth is able to get some time to recover. 

I can't help wondering whether the virus might be mother nature's attempt to restore balance and the damage that has been done to her.

So here is a proposal. It won’t fix everything. Some may laugh at how insignificant the proposal may seem on the surface. Or be annoyed that it’s “just an idea”. I would contend that at least it is taking action and bringing some more awareness, however small. 

Although it may be only a drop in the ocean, I see it as my duty to share this idea with all the 9,000 technical writers, entrepreneurs, engineers and safety experts who are part of the INSTRKTIV community, and ask for their  help.  

My proposal is this: allow and promote electronic user instructions.

Wouldn't it be time to allow the use of electronic instructions, without holding companies liable when they do not print their user manuals?

The problem with printed instructions is the carbon footprint that printing is responsible for. Electronic instructions don’t require trees.

Already, with the introduction of new standards, such as the 82079-1:2019 and ISO 20607, baby-steps have been taken to allow electronic instructions for certain product groups, but for many products it is still recommended to provide printed instructions. 

Regulations still require paper, or product liability laws and lawsuits may hold you responsible for selling defective products when you provide user online manuals only. 

What I miss here is lack of decisiveness by the lawmakers.

Do you know what our problem is? We constantly think we still have time. We are the first generation knowing that we are destroying the earth. We are also the last generation that can prevent this. We have the freedom of choice.

Yes, behavioral change of people is required for this, and yes, our perspective on product liability will need to change. But I think change is inevitable. 

To ignite the discussion, we created this safety sign. It would have the following meaning: 

The symbol on the product or machinery indicates that the information for use must be consulted online before using the product or machinery.  By providing the information for use online, we help to avoid possible hazards for the environment and public health.  

I need your help!

I see it as our duty together to emphasise the positive environmental benefits of digital information.  

You can help by sharing this blog post. You can help by tagging @EU_Commission or @isostandards on Twitter, or you can  inform the ISO 7010 committee.  

Last, but not least: the European Machinery Directive is about to be revised. This is a HUGE opportunity to allow electronic user instructions by law. The more this topic is being discussed publicly, the more change is likely to occur. 

Stay safe, and stay healthy.

Ferry Vermeulen

ferry vermeulen

Ferry Vermeulen

Founder of INSTRKTIV and keen to help users become experts in the use of a product, and thus to contribute to a positive user experience. Eager to help organisations to reduce their product liability. Just loves cooking, travel, and music--especially electronic. You can also find him on:
Profile PageLinkedin, Instagram and Twitter!


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