Accidents happen. They are often unexpected, unforeseen, and result in loss. After any sort of accident—whether it be in a residential setting, commercial setting, or even in a vehicle—it’s important to conduct a thorough investigation. Accident investigation aims to determine the cause of the accident in hopes to accomplish three main things: determine liability, identify the cause of the accident, and to prevent further accidents. Once you identify the root cause of the accident, you can determine the problem. You can check for and prevent a known problem in the future. There are three main types of accidents that require investigations and reports. The three types are corrosion failure, electrical failure, and fire.
Corrosion failure analysis
A corrosion failure analysis aims to determine the root cause of the issue and ensure that there are steps taken in the future to prevent similar issues. Some common reasons to get a corrosion failure analysis include:
- Any potential safety concerns
- Loss of buried assets
Corrosion is a major risk in certain industries, such as the pipeline industry. Corrosion is a risk that often goes unmanaged and festers for a significant time. This can lead to many problems and loss of assets. When it comes to corrosion failure, workers, job sites, and the public could be at risk if not managed properly. A corrosion failure analysis has methods and procedures that can include AD/DC interference and mitigation techniques, atmospheric corrosion, application of corrosion control. Cathodic protection systems, conformance to DOT, PHMSA, OSHA, and EPA regulations.
Electrical failure analysis
An electrical failure analysis aids during insurance, subrogation, and litigation after any issues resulting from electrical failures. Electrical failures that result in injury, fire, or other types of loss need an unbiased review by Licensed Professional Engineers to determine the root cause of the failure. The purpose of an electrical failure analysis is to find answers to the following questions:
- Was it an electrical failure that caused the accident?
- Was the system or component designed properly?
- Was everything assembled or installed correctly?
- Was it operated and maintained properly?
- Were all codes and standards met?
Electrical failure is typically the first assumption made when an explosion or fire occurs. Once investigators rule out arson as the root cause, a forensic engineer needs to properly determine why and how the failure occurred—even if the stem was not from an electrical issue and instead from a mechanical issue.
A fire investigation typically occurs when a fire or explosion takes place. Its goal is to determine the cause of the fire and help to provide any answers. A forensic engineer should arrive at the scene of the incident quickly for photography and documentation of the scene. They should evaluate the scene and identify all potential subrogation contacts. These practices continuously aid in the future use of subrogation and litigation support. There are five main types of fire analysis and investigation:
- Residential fire investigations in locations such as single-family homes, apartment buildings, condo buildings, and rental homes.
- Commercial fire investigation in locations such as commercial facilities, storefronts, storage facilities, restaurants, and more.
- Electrical fire investigations in any location where an electrical device or system fails and causes a fire.
- Industrial fire investigations in places such as oil or gas facilities, platforms offshore, or drilling and well locations.
- Vehicle fire investigations in large equipment, commercial vehicles, and farm equipment.