Warning: Power Drill Not Intended for Dental Use

power drill warning(All photos are expandable thumbnails.)

Here’s a warning for a power drill, the kind you buy at Home Depot for the purpose of making holes in wood, metal and concrete.

But read up before using, people, because:

This product is not intended for use as a dental drill or in medical applications.

That last part threw me because I have this pain in my side and also this really nice 18-volt hammer drill. I was thinking, why not see what’s going on it there?  I’m glad I read the warning first.

Most people enjoy this warning for the seemingly silly dental drill caution, but I also like this part:

Do not allow familiarity gained from frequent use of your rotary tool to become commonplace.

I know what they’re trying to say, and they do clear it up in the unbolded sentence that follows.  It’s an issue worthy of addressing in product warnings because tons of “cognitive failure” research shows that humans are prone to mental slips when performing tasks, and, perhaps counterintuitively, that the more expert a person becomes in performing a task, the more likely he or she is to commit a mental slip.  Familiarity and confidence breed inattention.

So it’s a well-intended warning, but the bolded sentence doesn’t say what it means.  Essentially, it says don’t let familiarity with the tool become commonplace, which is a non-sequitur.

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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