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Building a Case: Forensic Engineering Techniques for Structural Failures

28 February 2024

Forensic Engineering

Learn how forensic engineering by Stride Consulting Engineers can unravel structural failures. Analyse and prevent construction disasters. Call 0431 008 055.

Forensic engineering serves as the core behind understanding and resolving structural failures in construction. When a building or structure experiences a collapse, excessive deflection, or other failures, reliable engineers from Stride Consulting Engineers come in to investigate the root cause and provide valuable insights about the said issues and challenges. The results from the investigation can then be used to prevent future disasters.

The Main Core of Forensic Engineering

Forensic engineering is a branch of engineering that involves the investigation, analysis, and resolution of structural failures, construction defects, accidents, or disputes. Different engineering principles, scientific methods, and investigative techniques are applied to understand the main causes of problems and provide expert opinions or solutions.

Some common issues forensic engineers may investigate include design flaws, material deficiencies, construction errors, inadequate maintenance, and environmental factors. The findings of forensic engineers can help property owners, insurers, contractors, and legal professionals to understand liability, assess damage, and implement corrective measures to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Main Forensic Engineering Techniques

Different forensic engineering techniques can be employed when dealing with structural failures. Some of them are as follows.

•  Site Inspection and Documentation: Forensic engineers meticulously examine the failed structure and document visible signs of distress, material deterioration, construction defects, and other potential causes of failure. It provides them with crucial information that forms the basis for further analysis and evaluation.

•  Structural Analysis: Engineers can also maximise advanced software tools and mathematical models to simulate the behaviour of the failed structure under different loading conditions. By analysing factors like load distribution, stress concentrations, and structural response, forensic engineers can identify weaknesses, design flaws, or errors that contributed to the failure.

•  Material Testing and Analysis: This technique is primarily done by collecting samples of structural materials like concrete, steel, wood, or masonry for laboratory testing and analysis. These tests assess the physical properties, composition, and quality of materials, helping forensic engineers determine if they meet design specifications and performance standards.

•  Non-Destructive Techniques: Non-destructive techniques like ultrasonic testing, radiography, magnetic particle testing, and others can also help forensic engineers assess the condition of structural components. These techniques allow them to evaluate the integrity of materials, detect hidden defects, and assess the extent of damage without causing further harm to the structure.

•  Documentation Review: Forensic engineers may likewise examine construction drawings, specifications, permits, and maintenance records to gain insights into the design, construction, and maintenance history of the affected structure. The historical context of a structure provides valuable information about potential contributing factors that lead to failure.

•  Witness Testimony and Expert Opinion: Forensic engineers may interview eyewitnesses, contractors, designers, and other stakeholders to gather additional information about the events leading up to the failure. Expert opinions from structural engineers, materials scientists, and other specialists may also help validate findings and recommendations.

Work with Stride Consulting Engineers

The goal of forensic engineering is not only to understand why a structural failure occurred but also to prevent similar incidents in the future. By identifying root causes, design deficiencies, construction errors, and maintenance issues, forensic engineers from Stride Consulting Engineers can provide valuable insights and recommendations to improve structural safety, enhance building codes, and advance construction practices.

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