Product Induced Home Accidents: A Search For Safer Designs

Hasdoğan, Gülay
Designers usually begin the design process with some presumptions about the potential users or the consumers which aid them in-making predictions about the final product’s interaction with its user. Such presumptions may finally turn out to mismatch the actual usage. In specific usage environments, as in the home, where the user is untrained, the evidence of the outcome of mismatch is often readily observable. Accidents can be thought ofas examples ofsuch mismatches. Causes ofan accident may indicate to a designer where and how his predictions fail to match the actual usage of a product. ‘Human factors’ or sometimes referred as ‘ergonomics’ is one of the disciplines which is regarded as providing direct input to the design process concerning safety. It is nevertheless the case that product usage in the domestic environment is largely ignored by ‘human factors’ studies. One possible reason for this is identified by Ward (1970) who points out that there has been little political or commercial pressure to increase performance and preductivity in the home. According to Galer and Page (1991), there is less control over product usage, accidents and injury in and around the home, than is usually the case in working situations. In a work situation the safety of a product is to some extent assured, in that the product is carefully selected to serve its purpose and is used by people who have been trained in its operation. The employer is also required by law to provide a safe working environment. At home, the user is untrained and there are numerous other factors influencing the user in the selection (i.e. purchase} of the product. Vanity or cost for instance is sometimes more dominant than the functionality or safety of the product. This study aims to draw guidelines for product designers in considering the safest usage of household products, This is done by drawing their attention to the existing failures of product usage which have resulted in accidents and to their apparent and predictable causes. A field survey was carried out in 1988 as part of the author’s Master’s degree study (Hasdogan, 1988) to elicit the causes of home accidents which occurred in Turkish urban life. In this article the results of that study are being presented in a manner which highlights the most problematic areas of product design in terms of safety. Initially, causal components of an accident and the nature of their interaction will be discussed. Later the results of the study will be presented.


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Citation Formats
G. Hasdoğan, “Product Induced Home Accidents: A Search For Safer Designs,” ODTÜ Mimarlık Fakültesi Dergisi, vol. 12, no. 1-2, pp. 49–60, 1992, Accessed: 00, 2020. [Online]. Available: