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Determining Structural Failure with Forensic Engineering

09 April 2021

There are a lot of professionals that are being utilised in planning, designing, and building different types of structures. Additionally, a large amount of time and money are being maximised just to ensure that the structures will be safe, stable, and long-lasting.

Given the resources involved in constructing a structure, it is truly expected to last for a long time. However, some structures still fail, especially with their overall structural integrity. Once a building manifests signs of deterioration, its structural integrity is then known to have already failed, making the structure dangerous for use or occupancy.

Structural failure typically happens when some structural materials have been stressed beyond their strength limit, causing them to deform and collapse. As the structure collapses, property loss and injuries that are related to the collapse must be investigated.

An Overview of Forensic Engineering

Forensic engineering is the application of engineering principles that allow professionals to investigate property-related losses, damages, and injuries. Since a structure has already deteriorated or collapsed, this specific field of engineering helps in determining the main cause of the structural failure. Forensic engineering can likewise track the ones who might be responsible for the failure of a structure, allowing investigators and other involved people to use the findings in filing civil or criminal cases.

The results that can be uncovered by forensic engineering are often presented to builders, manufacturers, and insurance companies. Law firms can likewise access the results if ever there are injuries, deaths, economic losses, or property damages involved.

Forensic Engineering Importance

Structural failure can be caused by a lot of reasons. Natural disturbances such as strong winds, heavy floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes can cause structural components to fail. Alternatively, humanly mistakes such as bad structural design and faulty construction can cause structures to fail, deteriorate, and collapse. The presence of heavy loads and unexpected failure of the material can likewise cause structural failure along the way.

With forensic engineering, all these possible reasons will be gradually revealed and exposed as experts find a chain of causation that would lead to structural failure. For manufacturers, the findings from forensic engineering can help them improve the overall composition of a component or material. They can also use the findings to significantly reduce the failure rates of their components and make them safer. Builders, on the other hand, can utilise the results to improve their building procedures and practices. They can also use the findings in building a knowledge base and guidelines for future use.

Law firms and insurance companies, alternatively, can use the findings in providing clear information to the court, especially if there are damages or injuries involved.

Processes of Forensic Engineering

Forensic engineering is done by gathering evidence, analysing the gathered evidence, reporting the findings to the client. As forensic engineers gather evidence, they would typically research the background of the structural failure incident, preserve the scene, assess the hazards, and gather more useful information for the findings. The investigation analysis will then plan out the investigation, form an investigation team, and determine the extent of the investigation according to the terms of references by the client. Once the findings are finalised, the forensic engineers will now report everything to the client. If you need help with forensic engineering, feel free to contact us at Fairdinkum Technical Services.

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