Investigating Failure

by George F. Sowers, (F.ASCE), Sr. Vice Pres.; Law Engineering Testing Co., Atlanta, GA,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1987, Vol. 57, Issue 5, Pg. 83-85

Document Type: Feature article


Failure investigations can be adversarial or cooperative, but impartiality, good engineering ethics, and professional responsibility require that the investigator begin with no premature conclusions. It is important to protect the physical evidence, gather subjective evidence from witnesses, and delve into the history of the structure before analyzing the mass of data that will lead to a probable cause. Evaluating and reporting both require technical skills, and a legal umbrella is needed to protect the investigative team from undue public pressure.

Subject Headings: Forensic engineering | Failure analysis | Team building | Ethics | History | Structural analysis | Legal affairs

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