Good operating instructions form the basis of the safe use of products.
A company must provide the necessary instructions and information with the product to ensure that the product can be commissioned, used, maintained and removed from service safely and appropriately.
The instructions on this page are mainly intended for manufacturers and importers. Retailers and users can also use the page while assessing the operating instructions provided with the products, either before making the decision to buy or even after the purchase.
The manufacturer is tasked with drawing up operating instructions and safety information for the product.
The importer and seller are obliged to check that the instructions and safety information are included with the product in both Finnish and Swedish. If the manufacturer has not provided operating instructions in both Finnish and Swedish, the importer or finally the seller is responsible for the translation of the operating instructions.
Requirements on operating instructions
Operating instructions and safety information
- can be found on the product or the product packaging, or they can be provided with the product; or
- the information can be provided via commonly known instruction or warning markings.
Providing product information in electronic form does not replace the requirement to provide safety-relevant operating instructions with the product.
The requirements on the instruction or warning markings on products vary by product group. Check the product-group-specific requirements on the product-group page or the legislation that applies to the product group.
Some of the requirements are provided for in legislation, while others are stated in the standards related to the product. There are also standards for drawing up instructions, such as SFS-EN 82079-1, that help you to take essential matters into account. A copy of the standards can be bought from the Finnish Standards Association SFS.
General requirements on operating instructions stated in regulations have been listed below.
- Provide the operating instructions and other information on the product in Finnish and Swedish. The main rule is that the instructions related to the safe use of the product must be translated into Finnish and Swedish. Check that the translation of the instructions is accurate.
- Provide the necessary instructions for the installation, assembly, use, maintenance, storage and taking out of service of the product. The information must be provided clearly and understandably.
- Provide the necessary instructions for preventing risks to health or property.
Take these issues into account when drawing up operating instructions
- Identifying the product and the product specification, general warnings
- identification of the product: a type, batch or serial number or other marking element allowing its identification
- technical, physical and electrical features of the product
- name and contact information of the product’s manufacturer and importer, other possibly required information
- location of identification information on the product
- intended user group of the product, e.g., does use of the product require special skills, or whether the product is unsuited for use by specific user groups, e.g., restrictions concerning age and size
- any warranty terms
- include a marking in the instruction to indicate the date it was drawn up and possibly inspected, as well as the author of the instructions.
- Purpose of use of the product and possible limitations
- The section of the operating instructions describing normal use states
- how or for what purpose the product is used
- how the device works in normal conditions
- what the symbols or markings on the product mean
- possible warning about incorrect use
- possible instructions on limitations related to use.
- For example, a hand tool may cause too much vibration on the hands of its user. If the use of the product still involves risks that could not be removed despite careful design and implementation, this section includes a warning of those risks, unless the issue has been discussed in a separate section.
- Instructions concerning the operating environment
For example, if the device can be used outside, and how it is affected by humidity, exceptional temperatures, vibration or impacts.
- Measures taken before commissioning
For example, storage, transport, assembly and installation at the place of use, installation instructions and possible information on whether the assembly, installation or similar requires sufficient qualifications, such as the right to carry out electrical contracting or otherwise sufficient professional skill.
The commissioning of computers, digital set-top boxes, large machines and many other complex technical devices, for example, involves many stages with possible charging and inspections.
- Operating instructions in case of errors and malfunctions
Users must be provided with sufficient information on how to identify malfunctions and take the correct measures in case of errors and malfunctions. In particular, they must be told how to stop the device safely in case of a fault situation. The signals or warning symbols concerning malfunctions are presented here.
- Cleaning, maintaining and storing the product
It is often necessary to draw up separate maintenance instructions for laypersons and instructions on maintenance and troubleshooting for professionals. If the maintenance or repairs of the device must be carried out by a professional, this must be stated.
- Protecting the user against the remaining risks
If it has not been possible to make using the product completely safe by technological measures, users must be provided with instructions on how they can protect themselves against the remaining risks. Such instructions may include, for example, instructions on the use of various safety devices and personal protective equipment as well as safety distances.
- Disposing of the product
Instructions on the taking out of service, recycling and disposal of the product as well as instructions on the possible dangers related to disposing of the product
How to write good operating instructions
Tips on how to create good operating instructions:
- present the information in a simple and understandable manner
- avoid use of special terminology, explain any special terms you are using
- use unambiguous terms and unambiguous language
- use short and simple sentences
- only include one matter in a single sentence
- use the active voice, no passive forms
- do not provide any unnecessary instructions
- draw up a separate instruction for each device model
- use colours and contrast, illustrations, a clear layout and varying font sizes and styles
- test if the operating instructions guide users to use the product safely and correctly.