Product Safety – A Marketing Responsibility

by  Martin L. Hammond, Ph. D.

Introduction

In a well-run organization, marketing is responsible for determining market requirements. And in some markets, product safety is an important requirement.

In the semiconductor equipment and materials industry, market requirements generally fit into five categories:

  • Performance (results on the wafer or device)
  • Reliability
  • Safety
  • Cost
  • Convenience

Safety, by itself, is usually not a selling point; however, failing to meet critical safety requirements can be a deal-killer.

Know The Issues

Some products in the semiconductor processing market have few or no safety requirements, and other products have significant safety risk. It is the responsibility of marketing to make sure that the safety aspects of the product are identified and accommodated.

National, state, and local governments all have a hand in defining safety regulations. Trade and government organizations are often the source of safety regulations, including (in the USA) OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), NEC (National Electric Code), NFPA (National Fire Protection Association), and SEMI (Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International). Europe requires compliance to a CE mark, and other regulations exist in various regions in the world. The customer should be the primary source to identify which regulations are significant.

For the semiconductor processing industry, the SEMI standards SEMI S2-0200 (safety standard), SEMI S8 (human factors requirements), and SEMI F5-90 (gaseous effluent handling) are some of the important standards available from SEMI. Other standards dealing with more specific subjects are also available.

Self-declared compliance is often sufficient; however, third party review is sometimes required (for example, a CE mark) and generally offers two advantages:

  1. It helps assure that the product design does meet the safety requirements
  2. It shows that the manufacturer made a reasonable effort to assure compliance

For any product whose possession or use creates a hazard, it is essential that:

  • A formal safety audit be on file and available
  • Safety upgrades are implemented in a timely manner and documented internally
  • Safety bulletins are published and disseminated to users

A Safety Philosophy

While formal safety regulations are essential and must be followed, it is also important that a general safety philosophy be established for all relevant product development. One such philosophy includes three factors:

  • No harm to personnel with the failure of multiple utilities or interlocks
  • No harm to equipment with the failure of a single utility or interlock
  • Documented compliance with all relevant safety requirements

Any potentially hazardous product should be reviewed with this philosophy in mind, and everyone involved in product development should be trained in a product safety philosophy.

Responsibility For Compliance

Safety can be an important market requirement, and therefore, it is the responsibility of marketing to make sure that required regulations are identified, specific customer needs are reviewed and met, and the products are in compliance with relevant regulations. Marketing does not create or design products; however, marketing must be the place where all market requirements are identified.

‹‹ Martin L. Hammond, Ph. D.
[About the Author]

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