Operator's Manuals—Instructions Worth Reading

These days, due to the global market and cultural diversity, manufacturers produce operator's manuals in several languages that are often confusing. You either find a folded sheet at the bottom of the box that opens into a poster-size layout of seemingly disjointed instructions, or a virtual tome of information that ends up being cast aside as you begin to assemble the product.


Of course, just jumping in knee-deep, in a manner of speaking, can lead to confusion, frustration, spare parts, and sometimes, bodily injury.  I recall a number of years ago, finding a product shipped in a container with a VHS tape that offered instructions on properly opening the container.  Think about that one for a moment.


That said, though we may have to skip a few pages to continue with the instructions in our native language, it's always prudent to take the time to read the information, especially any safety precautions that are included.  Usually, this section is highlighted and appears at the front of the manual. 


I visited a jobsite for one of my abatement contractors recently and was pleased to see the operation and maintenance manual for the newly purchased infrared floor tile lifter in plain sight.  It was obvious the manual had been "flexed" and reviewed prior to the crew using the machine.  Electrical needs and other safety precautions were clearly defined in the manual. 


It turns out that temperature and dwell time over a square of tiles was really important for this machine. Otherwise, the vinyl asbestos flooring could overheat to the point of thermal decomposition, rendering noxious airborne by-products.  Not to mention the potential destruction of material. It paid to read these instructions.


So, frustrating though they may be, take the time to read the manualeven if you already know how to open the box.